Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gender Roles - Submission in Society

A recent comment asked about how the WELS deals with the role of women in society.

Gender Roles Submission in the Dhurch (sic) and World? wels.net


and

Gender Roles - Shame on Us!

These recent posts from the WELS Q&A try to address this point but basically dances around the issue and doesn't give me a clear answer.

Over a decade ago a WELS doctrinally statement was issued on this topic: Scriptural Principles of Man and Woman Roles. I realize that through the 1990s much debate occurred on this document.

First of all, I would like to examine this document on the issue of women in society.

…..We reject the opinion that male headship and female submission apply only to marriage or only to marriage and the church (1 Co 11:3; 1 Ti 2:12).

Not long ago I specifically asked a WELS DP if it would be sinning for a woman to go against her husband’s vote in a political election. He asked “why would she do that?.” He also said it would be a sin? (Yet women lectors and Bible leaders are allowed.)

Is the position of submission in society by women taught by WELS pastors or ignored?
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A contrary view published by former WELS pastors from:

http://www.saintjameslutheran.com/

Here is a link to what they wrote: Heirs Together Of the Gracious Gift of Life

As I'm sure most of you know this document caused a stir in the WELS over a decade ago. The authors were booted from the WELS for disagreeing with the WELS position on the role of women in society.

171 comments:

A WELS PAstor said...

John:

This is a great question to discuss. I hope your fellow bloggers don't ruin it again by jumping on some other side-issues. I think you did that yourself when you interjected the following remark about female lectors:

"Not long ago I specifically asked a WELS DP if it would be sinning for a woman to go against her husband’s vote in a political election. He asked 'why would she do that?' He also said it would be a sin? (Yet women lectors and Bible leaders are allowed.)"

I do not teach that women must be subject to men out in society. I see no clear command for that in the New Testament. I do see commands regarding submission in the home as well as in the church, but not in worldly society. I believe the argument (women should be submissive in society) is based on the order of creation that was established before the fall into sin. So the question is: is such a position based on conjecture a clear doctrine that we must maintain, and reject opposing views?

Anonymous said...

"This is a great question to discuss. I hope your fellow bloggers don't ruin it again by jumping on some other side-issues."

Well, insulting the other bloggers probably isn't the best way to stay on topic.

"I do not teach that women must be subject to men out in society....I believe the argument (women should be submissive in society) is based on the order of creation that was established before the fall into sin."

Is that what you read this document to say:

http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2617&collectionID=795&contentID=659&shortcutID=7839

I've never understood what "conlusion" is reached in the "In the World" section of that document--if any is reached. What you say makes sense. But are you saying the same thing as the document linked above? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a better question than "Is the position of submission in society by women taught by WELS pastors or ignored?" would be: Is this teaching found in Scripture or is the WELS' doctrinal statement flawed?

Anonymous said...

a wels pastor,

I was shocked at this statement:

"I believe the argument (women should be submissive in society) is based on the order of creation that was established before the fall into sin."

So the fall into sin erased God's will for society? There were other things that God established before the fall: man's dominion over the world, marriage being between one man and one woman, etc. Do those things no longer apply to us after the fall either?

Besides, Paul bases his teaching that women must be submissive in the family and in the church on the order of creation. How could he do that if the order of creation is now meaningless because of the fall?

I would suggest you think a bit more deeply about your line of argumentation here. Either the order of creation applies to every aspect of our lives or to no aspect of our lives. And if it really doesn't apply to our lives anymore, you've just opened up the door for female pastors and all the rest.

A WELS Pastor said...

The conclusion in the WELS document is unclear, at least in my opinion. Although we read in the quote you mentioned in the original blog, "We reject the opinion that male headship and female submission apply only to marriage or only to marriage and the church (1 Co 11:3; 1 Ti 2:12)," this document still says:

"Since the unregenerate world is often cruel, self-centered and even godless, Christian women, who must live and work in that environment, will not have the protection of the Gospel's influence as they do in the Christian home and in the Christian church. In Luke 22:35-36 Jesus told his disciples that they would soon be going out into an environment where they would find it necessary to carry a purse, and even a sword. Christian love and concern will keep us from imposing undue restrictions upon, and binding the consciences of, Christian women when they must go out and live, work, manage their property, fulfill their responsibilities as citizens, support themselves and their families, and defend themselves, in a sinful hostile environment."

To me, this is saying the headship principle cannot be applied in the midst of the unbelieving world, where hearts have not been changed by the gospel. The conclusion is vague. But may that be because the New Testament itself does not speak definitively about a Christian woman's submission out in the world?

Anonymous said...

a wels pastor,

I don't think that paragraph you quoted is saying that "the headship principle CANNOT be applied in the midst of the unbelieving world," but that the headship principle is extremely DIFFICULT to carry out in the unbelieving world. But that doesn't mean we can simply throw out a principle of God's Word because it is difficult to carry out. It does mean, though, especially in light of the fact that the NT gives no direct application of the principle, that it's up to each Christian woman (and man) to carry out that principle in a fitting way in the world. In other words, we can't draw hard and fast lines like we can in the family and the church.

Anonymous said...

In those days Israel had no king and everyone did as he(she) saw fit.

Hey kids, you can call them "principles" all you want, but what you are creating are laws. Perhaps, the headship/helper principle is so vague in the NT because it doesn't refer to what the WELS teaches that it refers to. If we understand the pastor standing in the place of Christ to care for his Bride, the Church (including both men and women), and see marriage as a picture of the marriage of Christ and the Church, that may help.

Anonymous said...

No one is denying that the pastor stands in the place of Christ or that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. I've heard those very things countless times in the WELS.

But reread 1 Corinthians 11. Paul doesn't say that women should remain silent in the church because the pastor stands in the place of Christ. He says that women should remain silent in the church because of the order of creation.

So your insinuation that the WELS isn't Christological enough in its position should be directed toward the apostle Paul, not the WELS.

Anonymous said...

"No one is denying that the pastor stands in the place of Christ or that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. I've heard those very things countless times in the WELS." I've heard that too, but now for the Lutheran question, "What does this mean?"

Maybe you should reread 1 Corinthians 11. 1 Corinthians 11 does not speak about women being silent in the church. It talks about a woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered as dishonoring her head. It does bring in the order of creation, and it also says "In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God." (verses 11-12) And, "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." (verse 3)

In defense of St. Paul, his position is so Christological that he wouldn't pass a colloquy into the WELS, which can't even find Christ in most of the OT.

Anonymous said...

"which can't even find Christ in most of the OT"

Wow, now there's a charge! I've heard thousands of WELS sermons on the OT and amazingly every single one of them found Christ in the OT!

Anonymous said...

Ah, those sermons must have been based on the 40 or so passages in the OT where the WELS does teach that Christ sticks his head in the door.

Do you have anything useful to say on the topic at hand: the roles of women in society?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if the person who wrote this:

"If we understand the pastor standing in the place of Christ to care for his Bride, the Church (including both men and women), and see marriage as a picture of the marriage of Christ and the Church, that may help."

took the time to actually read through the "Heirs Together of the Gracious Gift of Life" Bible study that John linked to.

If he had, he would have noticed that those exact points are made repeatedly throughout the entire Bible study.

It would be nice if critics of the WELS responded to actual WELS teaching rather than a crude caricature of it.

John said...

I actually just found and added the Heirs Together Of the Gracious Gift of Life link a few moments ago. I hope that it adds a perspective.

Although these pastors were booted out, aside from the DP who told me it is a sin for a woman to vote against her husband's political choice, I haven't heard from one WELS pastor who actually teaches this position to his congregation.

Anonymous said...

John,

I've been a member of 7 different WELS congregations. To the best of my recollection, I was taught in each of those congregations that the principle of head/helper applies to family, church, and society.

I wonder if you've just happened to be a member at some especially poor examples of what WELS congregations are really like.

Anonymous said...

"took the time to actually read through the "Heirs Together of the Gracious Gift of Life" Bible study that John linked to."

I did read it. Did you know that this study contradicts the WELS doctrinal statements and was written by the pastors of a congregation that left the WELS over the issue of women's suffrage?

John said...

I wonder if you've just happened to be a member at some especially poor examples of what WELS congregations are really like.

This may be true. But what does bother me is the the role of women in the church is stretched by some, yet (aside from the heirs together document)I have not heard this position debated or taught by pastors in the WELS.

Anonymous said...

"Did you know that this study contradicts the WELS doctrinal statements and was written by the pastors of a congregation that left the WELS over the issue of women's suffrage?"

Umm, you have your facts completely wrong. That study was written by Richard Gurgel, a professor at the Seminary. Look it up for yourself at NPH's website.

How are we supposed to have a rational discussion here with people making wild, uninformed, fallacious accusations?

John said...

ALL - Look carefully at the opening post. There are 2 studies! One is the current WELS doctrinal position.

The other is a contrary position "Heirs Together" put out by pastors from St. James in Minnesota. This church and the pastors were booted from the WELS for holding that Scripture doesn't mandate a submissive role by women in society.

Anonymous said...

Actually the last commenter has the facts wrong. Gurgel's Bible study has a very similar name though: "Heirs Together of God's Gracious Gift". I was confused when I first saw the link too.

I would suggest looking at Gurgel's study though. It's very well done.

Anonymous said...

Oops, John, I'm sorry.

It appears that I'm the one making wild and uninformed accusations. Mea culpa.

I was confusing that study with a more recent one that has almost the same name.

So I just wanted to apologize for my confusion before the WELS critics started piling on.

John said...

Ok...I tried to clear the original post up.

I would be interested in a link to Gurgel's Bible study on this topic. I wasn't able to find it online
(maybe it is only for purchase from NPH)

Anonymous said...

It's been argued here (and in that Bible study by the booted pastors) that if we look at the head/helper position in a Christocentric way, it will become clear that the principle doesn't apply to society. But what about looking at our role in society in a Christocentric way too? Didn't Luther say that we were like little Christs in the world? If so, then wouldn't the same principle apply?

Just food for thought.

Anonymous said...

"It's been argued here (and in that Bible study by the booted pastors) that if we look at the head/helper position in a Christocentric way, it will become clear that the principle doesn't apply to society. But what about looking at our role in society in a Christocentric way too? Didn't Luther say that we were like little Christs in the world? If so, then wouldn't the same principle apply?"

Yes, we are "little Christs" to the world in our vocations, which as mother/father, husband/wife, etc. relate to gender roles, but our vocations are also our roles as parents, children, employers, employees and the like, which don't necessarily relate to gender. In the worship of the Church, where the called and ordained pastor stands in the stead of Christ to give Christ's gifts to the Church, the congregation are all included in the Bride of Christ, so both the male and female members of the congregation are in a way female when they are gathered together as the Church.

This discussion should include something about the two kingdoms. These principles of headship and submission were ruined by sin, so now in the kingdom of the left, law and reason rule. The perfect headship/submission roles exist potentially in all men and women but will not be realized because of the Fall.

Anonymous said...

"The perfect headship/submission roles exist potentially in all men and women but will not be realized because of the Fall."

Well, of course, perfect head/helper roles will never be realized perfectly because of sin. But does that mean we completely abandon the roles?

To put it another way, before the fall, God gave humans headship over the world--to care for and rule over nature. This role has been ruined by the fall too. But does that mean that we should abandon that role because we will never be able to fulfill it perfectly?

I simply don't see how the fall into sin nullifies God's original principles.

Anonymous said...

"I simply don't see how the fall into sin nullifies God's original principles."

It doesn't and that's not what I wrote. Clearly from Scripture, there is a kingdom of the left and a kingdom of the right. What is your understanding of these two kingdoms?

This is very closely tied to roles of man and woman, which is why I brought it up.

John said...

From the Shame on Us answer man...a woman, for instance, often through no choice of her own, may be asked to be the primary support for her family. A job that enables her to keep her God-given commitment to the support of her family may place her in situations she herself would not have chosen as ideal. While not wanting to act in defiance of head and helper, she may be convinced that the God-given principle of supporting those who depend on her means she needs to keep a job that places her in a position of having men working under her...

The Answer man seems to be saying that each situation of a woman in the workplace having headship needs to be handled individually. But the trouble I see is that the "Scriptural Principal" document accepted as WELS doctrine doesn't leave room for that interpretation.

If rightly understood than a WELS woman would not assume a job that has authority over men even if she assumes the role in with a humble service-like attitude. I believe this is the answer the St. James pastors received from the MN district officials.

So than it seems that some pastors don't agree with the WELS position but take the don't ask don't tell approach.

Anonymous said...

A WELS pastor,

Are you saying you don't agree with the WELS position on this matter or that the WELS position is unclear? (or neither--in which case, what are you saying?)

LM

MLS Veteran said...

I am thankful that women DO have the ability to support themselves, have careers, vote in political elections, own property, sign contracts, and so forth in society.

There are many women, who through no fault of their own, find themselves head of households (through biblically sanctioned divorce and becoming widows). Others never marry at all. Some are more educated than their husbands and become the primary support of the family. I personally have known 2 families where the husband has raised the kids while the well educated wife works.

This does NOT mean that the husband (in that last case) were NOT the head of their families. The men were heads of their households...just in a different way.

Are the single women of the WELS supposed to wait upon the church for sustenance? The WELS can NOT even currently maintain itself, at least if we are to believe the "budget crisis" that was trumpeted just a few months ago by synodical administrators.

While I do not agree with women having dominion over men in spiritual matters, I certainly disagree with women not having the vote in congregational matters. In our church, women are by far the main financial contributors to our congregation. They are also the best attenders. I think when we vote on matters that do not have an effect on "dominion" over us men, they should be allowed to vote.

Please don't burn me as a herectic.

A WELS Pastor said...

I think the WELS position is unclear.

Anonymous said...

"I certainly disagree with women not having the vote in congregational matters. In our church, women are by far the main financial contributors to our congregation. They are also the best attenders."

So instead of doing what God tells us to do, we should do whatever the people who give the most money tell us to do?

Yikes.

Anonymous said...

John,

You said, "The Answer man seems to be saying that each situation of a woman in the workplace having headship needs to be handled individually. But the trouble I see is that the "Scriptural Principal" document accepted as WELS doctrine doesn't leave room for that interpretation."

But the WELS doctrinal statement says: "Scripture leaves a great deal to our conscientious Christian judgment as we live the role relationship principle in the world. In Christian love we will refrain from unduly binding the consciences of the brothers and sisters in our fellowship. Rather, we will encourage each other as we seek to apply this principle to our lives in the world."

That seems pretty consistent to me. Where's the difference or unclarity?

John said...

That seems pretty consistent to me. Where's the difference or unclarity?

Maybe I'm just looking for the black and white answer.

Would it be a sin for my wife to vote against my political choice? (eg. heaven forbid, she votes for Hillary)

Anonymous said...

John,

You're right. It is inconsistent. The NT churches were not governed by voters' assemblies. This is a relatively new way to "run" the church. It's a stretch of NT texts to say that women shouldn't vote in a congregational voters' assembly. Actually, in the early church and the NT, there wasn't much democracy at all in the church, so maybe our American practice of democratizing our congregations is on shaky ground to start with.

However, if women should not vote in a congregation because it would be exercising headship, then they should also not vote in secular elections, where it would also be exercising headship. Or, women should be allowed to vote in both the secular world and the church. It is inconsistent to split the two situations.

It is also a non-answer for the WELS to say: "Scripture leaves a great deal to our conscientious Christian judgment as we live the role relationship principle in the world. In Christian love we will refrain from unduly binding the consciences of the brothers and sisters in our fellowship. Rather, we will encourage each other as we seek to apply this principle to our lives in the world."

This gives precious little guidance to Christian women, like myself, who may be put into roles of authority in our secular work, due to our God-given ability, not our desire to exercise any kind of headship over men.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe I'm just looking for the black and white answer."

But John, as we live as Christians in a sinful world there are many, many, many areas where there is no black and white answer. When the Bible gives us gospel freedom rather than strict laws of behavior, there are many, many, many areas where there is no black and white answer.

Could the WELS set down strict black and white laws about exactly what a woman is allowed to do and say in every situation? Yes. Could the WELS set up a committee to look into every job held by every woman in the synod to determine if it was lawful? Yes.

But that would be legalism to the extreme. What the WELS position does is to acknowledge the principle of head and helper, and then to announce that since we have no specific laws from God as to how this is to be carried out, that we have the gospel freedom to live the principle as children of God.

We would be going down a long, dark road if the WELS started giving black and white laws about where the Bible doesn't.

MLS Veteran said...

"So instead of doing what God tells us to do, we should do whatever the people who give the most money tell us to do?"

I can see where that would have been inferred from what I wrote, and I certainly need to retract that statement, or at least its sentiment.

You are correct that money should not speak louder than the Word of God. The WELS has certainly had enough problem with big money in congregations and the synod itself with sometimes dictating policy and actions.

With respect to women in the secular society, however, I am happy that they have the vote, are allowed gainful employment, etc. as I mentioned before.

I just wish there was some way for the opinions of women to be considered in voters meetings.

I make a point of asking women who do not have a male member in the church their opinion on voting issues confronting our congregation, however I am sure some still feel uncomfortable telling someone their opinion.

Could women have a non-binding referendum type vote? Something where women could anonymously vote, but it would not necessarily bind the men?

I must admit, I am greatly troubled by this issue of women and the vote.

I believe in following the Word of God, and I also believe in the ideals of American democracy where both men and women have the right to vote.

But the idea that even a husband should be able to control his wife's vote in a political campaign just goes against my some of my deepest held beliefs.

Who said life would be easy?

Peace to All.

John said...

We would be going down a long, dark road if the WELS started giving black and white laws about where the Bible doesn't.

So then why did the pastors of St. James get booted out if there is gray area that should allow for their understanding?

Why did the DP tell me that it is a sin if a woman votes against her husband's political vote?

a wels pastor said I think the WELS position is unclear.

I do too. If it is a gray area than why the statement...?

We reject the opinion that male headship and female submission apply only to marriage or only to marriage and the church (1 Co 11:3; 1 Ti 2:12).

Anonymous said...

John,

I think you're confused on the difference between principle and application.

The principle is clear. The application is what leaves a gray area.

The principle that head/helper also applies in society is clear from Scripture. (1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Ti 2:12) The St. James pastors were removed because denied the principle itself (not because they had differing opinions on how to apply the principle).

The application of the principle of head/helper in society is not clear from Scripture. Thus, there are gray areas in how different Christian men and women apply the principle.

Do you see the difference?

A WELS PAstor said...

MLS Veteran said...

"I just wish there was some way for the opinions of women to be considered in voters meetings.

"I make a point of asking women who do not have a male member in the church their opinion on voting issues confronting our congregation, however I am sure some still feel uncomfortable telling someone their opinion."

My congregation utilizes an open forum before voters meetings--not on the same day, but a couple of weeks in advance. That way, anyone can bring up anything they want to discuss--both the men and the women. It's at that time the women can voice their opinions. I've found it to be very useful, and the men take into seruious consideration the opinions of the women when it comes time to vote in the voters meetings.

MLS Veteran also wrote:

"Could women have a non-binding referendum type vote? Something where women could anonymously vote, but it would not necessarily bind the men?"

When I arrived at my congregation they would often utilize a "straw poll." Both the men and women would vote, but it was supposed to be non-binding, simply to get an idea what the congregation was thinking as a whole. However, the straw-poll was being used more and more as the main vote for issues, so I stopped it from being used.

Anonymous said...

"When I arrived at my congregation they would often utilize a "straw poll." Both the men and women would vote, but it was supposed to be non-binding, simply to get an idea what the congregation was thinking as a whole. However, the straw-poll was being used more and more as the main vote for issues, so I stopped it from being used."

I'm curious how you stopped it. Were you the sole pastor? Did you have some kind of bible study on the issue before you ended that practice--and if so, if you have any notes from that, it might be helpful to this conversation.

A WELS Pastor said...

I just told the council we were not going to do it anymore, since it was circumventing Scripture. Later we went through the synod Bible study on the roles of men and women, and there doesn't seem to be much of a problem at all anymore (at least that I'm aware of--the pastor is the last to know a lot of things).

Anonymous said...

"I think the WELS position is unclear."

On that, at least, we can agree. Was there ever a clear statement on this from the WELS, and the WELS is now equivocating, or has it always been like this?

And what is the reason for not allowing women to vote? I think I understand the principle at play here, but I'm not sure how it applies to a democratic process in the Church--in fact, by its very nature, decision making by majority vote insures that no single person exercises authority over any other person (and while I don't want to divert John's topic, maybe a good future topic is what is the reason for instituting this system in WELS congregations in the first place?)

LM

Anonymous said...

"decision making by majority vote insures that no single person exercises authority over any other person"

Yes, but holding a majority vote produces an authoritative decision. Thus, simply by casting a vote, women would be in a position of authority in the church. It really doesn't matter if an individual woman's vote is on the winning or losing side. What matters is that she exercised that authoritative voice in the first place, which is against the Scriptural principal that women are not to have authority in the church.

Now, whether majority vote is the best method of decision-making in the church is an entirely different topic.

A WELS Pastor said...

LM wrote:

"maybe a good future topic is what is the reason for instituting this system in WELS congregations in the first place?"

Only allowing men to vote in the church was the historical practice in the Synodical Conference. The LC-MS once held to the same biblical position, but now it's a matter left to the individual congregation. There are still a few "conservative" LC-MS congregations that do not allow women's sufferage. The biblical basis is 1 Timothy 2:11-14, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."

John said...

I don't mind if the discussion does move to the voting issue in the church. This may be an interesting progression. In fact, I do know that St. James (Heirs Together) does allow women voting in the church.

Joanna L. said...

Dear WELS Pastor,

How come there are women teaching men at Martin Luther College, at Wisconsin Lutheran College, at secular universities? How come women may vote in national elections? Just curious.

Jo

A WELS Pastor said...

The religion classes are taught by men.

Joanna L. said...

Dear WELS Pastor,

What difference does it make? The WELS statements don't make that distinction. Besides these woman teaching at MLC and WLC are ministers in the church, aren't they? May woman teach and have authority in non teaching religion matters? Is it just religion that is out of bounds then why can't vote on the purchase of a new furnace (a matter at my church) or for Hilliary?

Curious and now confused!

Jo

UP said...

Dear a wels pastor,

"The religion classes are taught by men."

With respect, that doesn't really answer the question. If the issue is having authority over men, and according to the WELS docrinal statement it is, why are women allowed to teach any college classes? This would especially apply to the WELS colleges, MLC and WLC, where currently women professors are teaching classes that include students of both genders.

Also, why are WELS women able to vote in national elections?

UP

Anonymous said...

1. WLC is NOT a WELS college. It is loosely affiliated with the WELS. It routinely goes against WELS doctrine in several areas. So we can't use WLC to judge WELS doctrine.

2. As for MLC, I believe that the explanation is that the male students at MLC are still considered "boys" not men. (They definitely fit that description based on their behavior.) Thus it is seen more like women teaching in a Sunday School or Lutheran day school. Once you consider the second-career students at MLC, though, that explanation becomes muddier. Perhaps second-career students aren't put in classes with female teachers?

Joanna L. said...

Dear Anonymous,

To your point 1. WLC IS a WELS college, as much as St. John's Lutheran School is a WELS school. It is not their doctrine, but their practice which is to be in accord with WELS doctrine is what I asked about.

To your point 2. Get real. In most WELS congregation (my former one) voting is restricted to "MEN who are 18 and older and in good standing."

Curious and more confused.

Jo

Anonymous said...

Anonymous people can state their opinions, points of view, confession and even seek to articulate the "WELS" position.

But, please do not use one or two people to built a caricature of Wisconsin Synod teaching. You can search for a few answers at the WELS.net Q/A but even that is not to be taken as "official". I am guessing that there are helpful answers there as well as in the WLS online essay file.

Individual Christians should be able to give a the reason for the hope that they have, but not every one of us may be able to articulate a given teaching in a completely unassailable way.

Please keep these things in mind before we attach and label each other as individuals or church bodies.

Pax

Joanna L. said...

Dear Pax,

I hope you were not talking about me becasue I don't think I did what you said. I was asking questions of a WELS pastor who I think should be able to answer my questions. I did not caricature anyting. All I ever get from WELS pastors like the WELS Q/A is read our books. I did, now I have questions because it seems that things are wrong here. Sorry if I am snappy, it has been a bad day (and a man caused it!)

Jo

Anonymous said...

Regarding WLC, it was said: "It routinely goes against WELS doctrine in several areas."

Care to provide some examples?

LM

Anonymous said...

"WLC IS a WELS college, as much as St. John's Lutheran School is a WELS school. It is not their doctrine, but their practice which is to be in accord with WELS doctrine is what I asked about."

That's not exactly accurate. Lutheran day schools are operated and overseen by WELS congregations which hold membership in the synod. WLC is operated independently from congregations with only voluntary support (much like area Lutheran high schools are). As to your second sentence--I don't understand it.

"Get real. In most WELS congregation (my former one) voting is restricted to "MEN who are 18 and older and in good standing."

Since when does congregational voting age determine what we consider "adult"? Or even national or state law? Some congregations set the voting age at 14, some at 18, some at 21. Some national laws set it at 18, some at 21. Heck, in Biblical times, full adulthood didn't occur till the age of 30.

So what's the point here? There is no definite, predetermined age for adulthood. If MLC considers a young man in school as a boy rather than a man, I think we would have a hard time disputing that with any firm evidence (not to mention Scriptural evidence).

UP said...

"articulate the "WELS" position."

Isn't that what the WELS doctrinal statements are supposed to do? Yet, these are very unclear, as several have agreed to already on this thread.

"But, please do not use one or two people to built a caricature of Wisconsin Synod teaching. You can search for a few answers at the WELS.net Q/A but even that is not to be taken as "official". I am guessing that there are helpful answers there as well as in the WLS online essay file"

We aren't talking about a caricature; we are discussing the WELS doctrinal statements and how they are "applied" differently in different WELS congregations and schools.

The Q&A on the website is answered by sem profs. Even if their writing in these answers is not "official", it is what they are teaching future pastors and is a good idea of what pastors are teaching in their congregations.

Do you know of any essays from WLS that would be helpful to clarify the WELS' position? If so, could you provide a link, please?

"not every one of us may be able to articulate a given teaching in a completely unassailable way."

I agree, however we aren't talking about a few people who are weakly articulating an issue. The official doctrinal statements of the synod on the roles of man and woman seem to leave themselves open to being assailed. Therefore, it is useful to have this discussion to see if they can be made more clearly understood. For example, if male MLC students are still considered "boys", at what age are they considered men? In most WELS congregations, they would be considered men at age 18, as Jo pointed out above.

UP

UP said...

"So what's the point here? There is no definite, predetermined age for adulthood. If MLC considers a young man in school as a boy rather than a man, I think we would have a hard time disputing that with any firm evidence (not to mention Scriptural evidence)."

The same could be said of a secular workplace with a female supervisor. If X company has the right to consider 45 year old men boys rather than men, the WELS should have no problem with a woman being their supervisor and having "authority" over them.

UP

Anonymous said...

"If MLC considers a young man in school as a boy rather than a man, I think we would have a hard time disputing that with any firm evidence (not to mention Scriptural evidence)."

Another striking example of WELSlogic. A man is a boy if the WELS says he is a boy and nothing in scripture can prove otherwise. A woman can play pastor, as long as we don't call her a pastor (See Q&A and discussion on women serving communion). Is means is, unless the WELS says it doesn't. (See recent MM article.)

Anyway, a WELS pastor, thank you for answering my question. So based on those verses from Timothy, I guess the question is, does a woman have authority over a man if she has a vote in matters that come before the voters assembly? In other words, does allowing women to have an equal say in certain decisions (such as approving the Church budget, or making emergency organ pipe repairs)constitute the exercise of authority over any of the males in the congregation?

LM

Anonymous said...

"The same could be said of a secular workplace with a female supervisor. If X company has the right to consider 45 year old men boys rather than men, the WELS should have no problem with a woman being their supervisor and having "authority" over them."

Two problems with that statement:

1. There's certainly a range (say 14-30) in which we struggle to define exactly when adulthood starts. But I would say that at a certain point it's clear to everyone that a person is an adult. To claim that a 45 year-old is not an adult is clearly pressing things to the absurd, and not humbly trying to apply God's Word honestly.

2. The situation is different in the workplace anyway. The secular employer doesn't struggle with these issues and thus would never dream of considering who's an adult or who isn't for the sake of Christian principles. That makes your application of MLC's situation to the workplace moot. That's also why the WELS doctrinal statement makes a point of saying that the application of the head/helper principle in the workplace is very difficult to do.

Anonymous said...

"A man is a boy if the WELS says he is a boy and nothing in scripture can prove otherwise."

What a laughable caricature. The WELS has produced no official decrees saying who is a boy and who isn't. But you're right--Scripture doesn't say anything about the exact age that a boy becomes a man. Thus, it is left up to Christian judgment as to when being instructed by a woman is appropriate and when it's not. It seems that much of what WELS critics deride as being arbitrary or inconsistent or wish-washy is simply a matter of the WELS refusing not to declare what Scripture doesn't declare and allowing different Christians to come to different judgments in matters of adiaphora.

"I guess the question is, does a woman have authority over a man if she has a vote in matters that come before the voters assembly?"

A majority vote, be definition, has an authoritative, binding power. Thus, if a woman votes she is being given part of that authoritative, binding power over the congregation (including the men of that congregation).

UP said...

" 45 year-old is not an adult is clearly pressing things to the absurd,"

How about a 45-year old living with his parents? I know many men in their 40s and 50s who act like juveniles, how about them?

The point is that there are discrepancies in the WELS. If 18-year olds are considered men and able to vote in their congregations, how can those same "men" be under the authority of female professors? This is inconsistent within the WELS.

"The secular employer doesn't struggle with these issues and thus would never dream of considering who's an adult or who isn't for the sake of Christian principles."

She does if she's a WELS member and an employer.

"That's also why the WELS doctrinal statement makes a point of saying that the application of the head/helper principle in the workplace is very difficult to do."

This is also why many people are questioning the WELS doctrinal statement.

UP

Anonymous said...

UP,
I was referring to those who have posted on this blog, not the doctrinal statements being discussed.

LM,
You asked. Please read.

THE GOD GIVEN ROLES OF MAN AND WOMAN APPLIED AT MLC By David Kuske
http://www.wlsessays.net/Authors/K/KuskeWoman/KuskeWoman.rtf

Exploring Old Testament Foundations that Support Distinct Roles for Men and Women in Work, Worship, and their Walk Together By, John C. Lawrenz
http://www.wlsessays.net/Authors/L/LawrenzRoles/LawrenzRoles.rtf

Pax

Anonymous said...

"The point is that there are discrepancies in the WELS. If 18-year olds are considered men and able to vote in their congregations, how can those same "men" be under the authority of female professors? This is inconsistent within the WELS."

Again, these aren't "discrepancies". They are merely differences in how Christians apply the principle of head/helper based on their Christian judgment.

What would you prefer? Should the WELS issue a statement that tells Christian women exactly what they must say and must do in every situation in life? That determines exactly what positions a woman may be employed in? That determines the exact second at which a boy becomes a man?

I can see some of these same arguments being leveled against the early Christian church. "Paul's statements are so unclear. He circumsized one pastor but not the other! What a discrepancy! Some people in his churches eat meat sacrificed to idols and some don't! Why can't he make a clear statement saying whether or not men need to be circumsized or whether or not we should eat that meat?"

Sorry, but when we live in Christian freedom and live in a sinful world, not everything can be tied up in a neat little bow. God's principles are clear--but how we apply them will often differ between different people and in different situations.

mav said...

"Again, these aren't "discrepancies". They are merely differences in how Christians apply the principle of head/helper based on their Christian judgment."

This is the standard answer to any differences in the synod. It's all in the application. Sorry, but if a congregation is saying that an 18-year old is a man, and MLC is saying he's a boy, that's a discrepancy.

Please spare us your imagined visions of the early church. They are neither accurate nor germane to the discussion.

mav said...

"Thus, it is left up to Christian judgment as to when being instructed by a woman is appropriate and when it's not."

So, if a 19-year old male MLC student, using his Christian judgment, decides it is no longer appropriate for him to be taught by women, can he leave his female professor's class?

Anonymous said...

"This is the standard answer to any differences in the synod. It's all in the application. "

Do you not believe that in Christian freedom we have the ability to apply Scriptural principles to our lives? What other kind of answer are you expecting?

"Sorry, but if a congregation is saying that an 18-year old is a man, and MLC is saying he's a boy, that's a discrepancy."

OK, how about this... If such a situation is an untenable discrepancy, then which one is correct? Is the congregation correct or is MLC correct? On what basis are you making that determination?

"Please spare us your imagined visions of the early church. They are neither accurate nor germane to the discussion."

Wow. "Imagined visions?" "Neither accurate or germane?" Umm, both situations I listed actually happened. You can read about them in the New Testament. Paul circumcised Timothy but not Titus. Some members of the congregations were eating meat sacrificed to idols, some weren't.

Nor did I "imagine" that there was controversy about such things. Paul was chided on several occasions for holding to Jewish customs and regulations, while at the same time chiding Peter for insisting on Jewish customs and regulations. There was much tumult in the early church about meat sacrificed to idols and related topics.

Perhaps instead of simply making those charges, you could show me how those things are "imagined" or explain why they don't apply here.

I'll say it again: when we have Christian freedom and live in a sinful world, things will not be neat and pretty all the time. If you want a black and white rulebook for every aspect of life, go to the pope.

Anonymous said...

"So, if a 19-year old male MLC student, using his Christian judgment, decides it is no longer appropriate for him to be taught by women, can he leave his female professor's class?"

Students at MLC register for their own classes. If a student wasn't comfortable with a female teacher, then he would be free not to sign up for her class. If he decided half-way through the class, I'm sure that the MLC administration would accommodate a transfer to another class. Students have transferred classes for far more trivial reasons.

Joanna L. said...

Dear Pax and Anonymous and WELS pastor,

I solved one of the questions for you. MLC considers its male students men, if you believe their official website. Here is what they say,

Martin Luther College exists to serve the ministerial needs of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)

by preparing men for pastoral training at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and

by preparing men and women for service as teachers and staff ministers in the Synod’s churches and schools

Function
Consistent with its mission and objectives, Martin Luther College
encourages, recruits, and admits men and women qualified to undertake appropriate programs of study at Martin Luther College;

So, the WELS synod says women can't teach men as they have women teaching men. And one of you says voting is an exercise of authority and women may not, as you allow women to vote in national elections. Oh, and WLC IS a WELS school as it it chartered under the auspices of the WELS as much as any congregation or school is. So there!

Of course what do I know, I'm just a ditz.

Jo

Anonymous said...

"This is the standard answer to any differences in the synod."

Wait. There aren't supposed to be any differences at all in the synod?

The poor WELS can't win. They're criticized for being repressive and not tolerating any debate or disagreement and then they're also criticized for allowing differences in their synod. What's a synod to do?

Anonymous said...

"What's a synod to do?"

Disband.

Anonymous said...

Jo,

Let me respond to several things you wrote:

"MLC considers its male students men, if you believe their official website."

What you quoted isn't a theological statement. It's description of what they do there. It's a bit confusing, yes, but I don't think we can derive a theological position from those words.

"And one of you says voting is an exercise of authority and women may not, as you allow women to vote in national elections."

Voting in a church and voting in the secular world are two different things. One is bound to follow God's will, one doesn't care a bit about God's will. There are many differences between the church and the world. Carefully reread previous comments for more on that distinction.

"Oh, and WLC IS a WELS school as it it chartered under the auspices of the WELS as much as any congregation or school is."

I'm not sure I know what you mean by "chartered under the auspices of". It's far more accurate to say that WLC is a "WELS-affiliated school" rather that a "WELS school". MLC is overseen, operated, and funded by the synod while WLC isn't. To simply lump them together and say they're both "WELS schools" isn't accurate.

"Of course what do I know, I'm just a ditz."

No comment.

Anonymous said...

"Disband."

Sadly, I think that's the only option that will make people here happy.

Anonymous said...

I've been told by my WELS pastors over the years that authority is making a decision that is binding upon the will of others. Where does this definition come from?

Maybe we WELS-ers have gotten off base by using this definition of authority. This definition does not seem to fit with the Great Commission, where Jesus says, "All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me." If we stick with this definition, we make Jesus say: "All decision-making to bind your wills on heaven and earth has been given to me."

Is there a better definition for authority? Please tell me if I have the WELS defintion of authority wrong.

Anonymous said...

Jo,
Please read Kuske's paper that I provided a link for. In it he seeks to help answer some of the very questions people are asking in relation to students at MLC.

I pray that is what LM is doing along with reading the Lawrenz paper. These are papers written to help understand the principles and how they have been or could be applied. I will look forward to LM's thoughts on them.

Jo, if you have no wish to receive help in finding these answers and would rather get angry at a bunch of well meaning but sometimes confusing blog posters, then I am afraid you will continue to get exactly what you expect.

In general, people come to these issues with a preconceived idea that it is wrong and simply want to find reasons to get angry.

I said before that, many on this blog have struggled to be clear and have talked past one another.

The papers were written to assist us in understanding and communicating more clearly. I hope that they help.

Pax

Joanna L. said...

Dear Anonymous/No Commenter,

I ask, why does the WELS who says women may not teach men, have women teaching men at MLC and WLC and at secular universities. One says, they do not teach religion. Another says WLC is not WELS, another, and what a hoot, say these are not men. All these objections have been met; these women profs at MLC and WLC are ministers according to the WELS and the "principles" are valid in the world. NOw of course the MLC statement is not a theological statment per se, but it simply epxresses a truth known to anyone with any sense, these students are men. So the WELS does what the WELS says is wrong. There is a word for that in the Bible. Perhaps the WELS doctrine is wrong and not their practice. I suggest you read the article "That Jesus Christ was Born a Man" in Vol 2 number 1 of the Motley Magpie. It opened my eyes (but of course you have to read it to have your eyes opened.)

Jo

Anonymous said...

Pax,

Thanks for the citations. I read the Kuske paper--I'll have to read the other one later.

The Kuske paper does address some the issue we've been discusing here, but doesn't offer much of a conclusion. The most I could glean from it is, some times when women teach, they aren't teaching with authority, and therefore, there is no problem. I'll let you all chew on that one while I move on to the point I was really trying to address. How is a woman casting a ballot in a voters’ assembly an exercise of authority over a man?

As I read it, The Kuske paper points out that this discussion of authority is really about the different roles of men and women, according to the order of creation. The man's role involves headship (which includes authority); the woman's role involves submission. The man is the head and the woman is the body as Christ is the Head and the Church is the body--they are to serve each other in those roles. So how do we get from there to Women can't vote?

LM

Anonymous said...

Jo,

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I understood what you were getting at in your latest post. Like "Pax" I sensed a great deal of anger in your last post. Perhaps you should calm down a bit and wait to post again until you're thinking calmly enough to write a rational post.

LM,

I'm not sure I understand your question. You said,

"The man's role involves headship (which includes authority)"

Isn't voting an authoritative act? At a voters' meeting, aren't the voters given the authority to make a binding decision? If so, wouldn't voting at that meeting involve using authority? If so, then shouldn't only men vote--since they are the ones who are to exercise authority in the church?

Anonymous said...

"In general, people come to these issues with a preconceived idea that it is wrong and simply want to find reasons to get angry."

Pax,

I didn't see this before I posted my most recent comment. I do appreciate the citations--it is more than I have gotten from most. If I was just trying to prove the WELS wrong, that is what I would do. I'm trying to understand the WELS. Believe me, it would be much easier for me and my family if I didn't hold certain doubts about WELS doctrine. But I do. And the only way I know how to confirm or expel those doubts is to ask questions. I don't mean to caricaturize WELS doctrine--I have no interest in setting up straw men just to knock them down. The comment about WELSlogic was intended as a commentary on some of the explanations I have seen here and on the WELS Q&A. Explanations like those are so nonsensical that they are really no explanation at all.

LM

UP said...

Jo is right. The WELS is doing what it says is wrong by having female profs teaching male college students.

Perhaps it would help to calm her down if one or more of you could give an explanation.

UP

mav said...

"Isn't voting an authoritative act? At a voters' meeting, aren't the voters given the authority to make a binding decision? If so, wouldn't voting at that meeting involve using authority? If so, then shouldn't only men vote--since they are the ones who are to exercise authority in the church?"

You are making many assumptions in this paragraph without giving evidence to back them up. I have been taught many times that women are not to "bind wills". Where does this phrase come from? Is it found in Scripture? Thanks to anyone who has a reference.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't voting an authoritative act?"

I’m not sure it is. The democratic decision-making process is intended to give all voters equal power. If someone has equal power, then by definition, how do they also have authority? But if you really want it to get confusing, tease out the Head/Body analogy to its natural end. (Is the Voters’ Assembly Head or Body, is the Church male or Female?)

LM

Joanna L. said...

Dear Anonymous,

You write,

"To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I understood what you were getting at in your latest post. Like "Pax" I sensed a great deal of anger in your last post. Perhaps you should calm down a bit and wait to post again until you're thinking calmly enough to write a rational post."

Wow, amazing. Was it my words "What a hoot" that you took as anger? Why are you so afraid to answer my simple and straight forward question:

How come there are women teaching men at Martin Luther College, at Wisconsin Lutheran College, at secular universities? How come women may vote in national elections?

Now that's not too hard, is it? I guess to suggest that the WELS is hypocritical is interpreted by you as anger, irrationality and hysteria. Interesting. I guess when you don't have an answer that is the best tact to take.

Perhaps you ought to sit down, calm dow, take a time out and actually respond rationally to what I wrote and have asked, that is, if you are able, otherwise it is best to stay out of the debate. Perhaps you might also read the article I referenced in the Motley Magpie.

Now where were we, oh, yes, why the does WELS practice contrary to his own doctrine? - as I have shown.

Jo

Anonymous said...

LM,

Check out the following papers for in-depth analysis of "authority" in Scripture:

http://www.wlsessays.net/authors/PQ/PanningAuthentein/PanningAuthentein.PDF

http://www.wlsessays.net/authors/V/ValleskeyWord/ValleskeyWord.PDF

I wasn't able to follow all of the Greek analysis, but it seems pretty clear that a basic definition of authority would be "to push forward or assert one's will or position." Isn't that also a basic definition of voting? By voting aren't you asserting your will that one choice or another be chosen?

Jo,

"Why are you so afraid to answer my simple and straight forward question: How come there are women teaching men at Martin Luther College, at Wisconsin Lutheran College, at secular universities? How come women may vote in national elections?"

I and others have already tried to answer those questions for you here. But it's frustrating because you aren't responding to the actual points that are being made. You simply keep ignoring the answers and asking the same questions again. What specific parts of our explanations do you not understand or agree with?

Anonymous said...

God bless your search for answers Jo. Because I don't believe anyone is going to be able to satisfy you.

I have tried to be helpful and will attempt to carry on a dialog (I say "attempt" because of time constraints) with LM on the questions he has asked but you have continued to look for things to get frustrated about.

You have continued to make judgments about a group of Christians who are attempting to hold to a biblical principle, negative judgments because some have not answered as clearly as you would like and others have asked you to read about something you appear to have your mind made up about already.

You seem to have no interest in actually listening or learning and I find that sad.

Pax

Joanna L. said...

Dear Anonymous,

I hope you are still thinking about my questions and are able to calmly give answer for the hope you have. But let me address your questions. You ask:

“Isn't voting an authoritative act? At a voters' meeting, aren't the voters given the authority to make a binding decision? If so, wouldn't voting at that meeting involve using authority? If so, then shouldn't only men vote--since they are the ones who are to exercise authority in the church?”

All depends, Anonymous, on what you believe the authority of the church is. Here is what I believe is the authority that the church has which it entrusts to her ministers, that is to proclaim the gospel, forgive sins, administer the sacraments and to excommunicate. One needs to be rightly called to do that in the church. If that is what you mean then I agree with you then that only men, qualified and rightly called, should exercise that authority. And I don’t see where voting comes into those duties. But if you are talking about deciding upon which color carpet you are going to put in your sanctuary, then I am not sure where that fits in with the definition of “authority” I gave above, nor do I see in Scripture that that is the authority God gave to the church and to men.

Jo

Anonymous said...

LM you wrote- "As I read it, The Kuske paper points out that this discussion of authority is really about the different roles of men and women, according to the order of creation. The man's role involves headship (which includes authority); the woman's role involves submission. The man is the head and the woman is the body as Christ is the Head and the Church is the body--they are to serve each other in those roles."

I realize this doesn't start answering your question yet but hear me out and let me know what you think.

Can it be said that the WELS understanding of "the role of Man and Woman" is what is pointed to (more than the doctrine of OHM or Public Ministry) in order to clearly show that a woman cannot be a Pastor. In the LCMS the doctrine of the OHM is used because with woman's sufferage the "role of Man and Woman" is not as clearly taught.

Both are accused of one day allowing Women Clergy but one would point to order of creation and "roles" and the other would point to OHM to refute and both may be right.

Gone for a bit.
Pax

Anonymous said...

Jo,
Just when I had given up hope you write and impress me (although that isn't real hard) with a post(5:43pm) that says some things that need to be said in a straightforward way.

I agree that the decision on carpet color shouldn't involve authority. The problem comes with the less "black and white" areas where that authority in voting comes in. Because it is such a subjective thing the easiest solution is to label all voting as authoritative.

Just my thoughts. Glad to converse.

Pax

John said...

Pax,

Both are accused of one day allowing Women Clergy but one would point to order of creation and "roles" and the other would point to OHM to refute and both may be right.

This is an excellent post/comment. I have said before that OHM/public ministry has application links to the role of men and women.

I also noted that the WELS has begun to call the LCMS view of the OHM false doctrine, which is a new perspective. In past history both views of the ministry (WELS/LCMS) were considered correct interpretations.

Anonymous said...

"Here is what I believe is the authority that the church has which it entrusts to her ministers, that is to proclaim the gospel, forgive sins, administer the sacraments and to excommunicate."

Let me see if I'm understanding you. You believe that the head/helper principle only applies to the pastor? If so, why would Paul point back to the order of creation? If the order of creation applies only to pastors, does that mean that only pastors must have one wife? Does head/helper apply to families? And what happens if a congregation has no pastor and the congregation must make a decision about a spiritual matter? Does that mean we must establish bishoprics to ensure that all spiritual decisions are always made by a pastor?

These are just a few questions that come to mind regarding that interpretation.

Joanna L. said...

Dear Pax,

I guess the question first of all is, do you consider this - to proclaim the gospel, forgive sins, administer the sacraments and to excommunicate - the authority that the church has? That is the first question you need to answer. If not, then I must ask what other authority has Christ given the Church and where do you find this in Scripture? The above authority Christ exercises in the church through his ministers (This is the teaching, speaking, having authority of which Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 that he forbids women). Where does voting come in at all in these matters? Voting members, men 18 and up, are not those to whom is given this authority to exercise in the church. By the way the right to judge and give approval (ear) to her teachers is a right the whole church, men, women and children enjoy.

Now the church necessarily must involve itself in matters of the kingdom of the left hand and of, for a lack of a better word, mundane things. Is deciding on these things (as in by voting) the authority Christ has given the church? Christ gives the church freedom to decide matters that do not involve the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments, so the church is free to decide how. Voting is one way, probably not the best, but who cares because it is a matter of freedom.

That for now.

Anonymous, I am framing an answer to your latest post which I just now saw.

Jo

Anonymous said...

"Can it be said that the WELS understanding of "the role of Man and Woman" is what is pointed to (more than the doctrine of OHM or Public Ministry) in order to clearly show that a woman cannot be a Pastor. In the LCMS the doctrine of the OHM is used because with woman's sufferage the "role of Man and Woman" is not as clearly taught."

I don't know. I'm not terribly familiar with LCMS doctrine or practice. I have read a few papers by LCMS guys and they seem to emphasize that the Pauline prohibitions, rather than being just a set of arbitrary rules, are an expression of the deeper reality of the incarnation, that Christ was a man because only a man could be the new Adam and the Son of God, and therefore, to allow a woman to stand in the stead of Christ as a pastor, not only confuses the order of creation but also the order of redemption. I can't find any fault in this, but again, I don't know if this is the prevalent view in the LCMS.

LM

Joanna L. said...

Dear Anonymous,

You write,

“Let me see if I'm understanding you. You believe that the head/helper principle only applies to the pastor? If so, why would Paul point back to the order of creation? If the order of creation applies only to pastors, does that mean that only pastors must have one wife? Does head/helper apply to families? And what happens if a congregation has no pastor and the congregation must make a decision about a spiritual matter? Does that mean we must establish bishoprics to ensure that all spiritual decisions are always made by a pastor?”

The discussion at hand was the authority (or as you frame it, the head/helper principle) that has been given the church, as I wrote in the post you quoted "here is what I believe is the authority that the church has which it entrusts to her ministers, etc.” We were not discussing how that matter is seen in marriage. (And an important aside, do you agree that is the only authority that Christ has given the church, and if so, what other authority is there? See my post to Pax.) The word “only” was not used, but, again, we were speaking of the church.

Yes, Paul speaks of the order of creation in 1 Timothy 2, he calls it the Law (as in Torah) in 1 Corinthians 14. This, is not a principle (I must quibble with that word) but a Christologically iconic relationship, which is integral to the image in which man was created. These Christologically iconic relationships exist in marriage and the church. But my friend’s husband is not the head of all women, and my pastor is not the head of all churches, but where God has joined them together (husband-wife, pastor-congregation) that relationship and how that relationship works exists. It is giver and receiver, head and helper and so forth. Without that relationship there is no giver/receiver etc. I have no Christologically iconic helper/head relationship with that person I see out my window right now. I do not have that with my co-workers. Am I Christ to my neighbor? Yes, but am I husband or wife, pastor or congregation to my neighbor. No.

You ask about a vacancy and spiritual decisions. Again, what is the authority that Christ gives to the church which we give to our qualified and called pastors? It is only to preach the Gospel, forgive sins, administer the Sacraments, and excommunicate. If you have no pastor (he croaks etc.) you get a vacancy pastor to do those things, and yes, a bishop should ensure that congregations have a pastor (in cases of emergency, and no pastor is available, one is chosen to be pastor from the congregation). The rest of the stuff that a church does beyond those things the church can figure out on how to do it. (see my post to Pax on that).

Jo

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who said the following:

"Check out the following papers for in-depth analysis of "authority" in Scripture:

http://www.wlsessays.net/authors/PQ/PanningAuthentein/PanningAuthentein.PDF

http://www.wlsessays.net/authors/V/ValleskeyWord/ValleskeyWord"

I looked at the articles, and they are not in-depth studies of authority in scripture. They deal only with one word in one passage, and that without referencing other scripture passages that might shed light on this passage.

The papers conclude that the word authentein means to exercise authority. Good. But this does not answer what that authority is. The authors supply the definition of binding wills or domineering. No other passages are cited to support this definition of authority.

But Scripture does in fact, speak of authority in other places using other Greek words. See Matthew 28, where Jesus says "All authority has been given to me." What is this authority? Go back to Matthew 9 and authority is the authority--the right, power, and responsibility--to forgive sins on earth. Jesus, having been given this authority, then sends out his disciples to baptize and teach. He sends them out to forgive sins on earth; he gives them that authority which was first given to him.

Perhaps then Joanna is not just spitting out irrational anger, but has a very good point in her definition of authority in the church being the power to forgive sins.

Back to the question then: where does Scripture define authority as binding the will? That seems to me to be a definition needlessly brought into 1 Timothy because the papers failed to allow scripture to interpret scripture. So then, where is that defintion found? And if it is, as I suspect, not to be found in Scripture, what business do we in the WELS have imposing this defintion on the roles of man and woman as divine truth?

Anonymous said...

Jo,
Forgive me for reverse engineering on this question but, what things are normally voted on in your congregation.

In the congregations I have been a part of we have voted on things like ministry plans and accompanying budgets (how we as a body of believers seek to use our resources to carry out our mission), calling a pastor or a teacher, receiving people into membership and excommunicating. The adult men of the congregations have done this voting because it does involve authority.

I have been in congregations that have invited everyone to vote on what color the bathroom paint should be.

I have been in congregations where open forums are held weeks before Voter's meetings so that the entire congregation is informed and anyone can speak to an elder with their thoughts.

I have not (though I may be a rare bird) been in a congregation where there were women who resented the fact that they did not vote. You can say that's "wishful thinking" but in places where that may have become an issue the leaders made it a point to gather the thoughts of the entire congregation before they made a decision on something that was not clearly decided already in Scripture.

All for tonight,
Pax

Anonymous said...

"The papers conclude that the word authentein means to exercise authority. Good. But this does not answer what that authority is. The authors supply the definition of binding wills or domineering. No other passages are cited to support this definition of authority."

They didn't cite other passages to make their point because there are no other passages which use that particular word. I believe one of the papers made that exact point. But they didn't "supply the definition of binding wills". They demonstrated quite thoroughly how that definition is inherent to that word itself. I don't know if you know Greek or not, but I don't, so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt on that point to the trained scholars.

Joanna L. said...

Dear Pax,

I’ll forgive you as you ask and answer your questions but it is all somewhat irrelevant. The issue at hand is what is the authority that Christ has given to his church. That is the question you must first address. Is it as I maintain, - to proclaim the gospel, forgive sins, administer the sacraments and to excommunicate – or is it that and more? And if so, where in Scripture do you find this? I assume you will assert that because you note that determining things like budgets and so forth are an authority given to the church by Christ you write:

“The adult men of the congregations have done this voting because it does involve authority.”

I maintain that proclaiming the gospel, forgiving sins, administering the sacraments and excommunicating the impenitent is the only authority Christ gave to his church which the church exercises through qualified, called and ordained men. Now how you decide to spend your money and so forth will impact how the pastor exercises that authority, but how that is decided is a matter of Christian freedom. Nothing a voter’s assembly can do can change what the pastor is to called to do (or should, and that is not to say that voter’s assemblies don't try to do that and do, to their shame. For example I know of WELS voter’s assemblies who vote to deny people the blessed Sacrament of the Altar by forbidding the pastors to offer it to people every Sunday and when they ask for it, and these pastors have caved in. Cowards, in my estimation.)

I have been in WELS congregations with practices such as you describe. That is neither here nor there and how they do it is up to them since this is a matter of Christian freedom. In my present congregation all the members “vote,” if you will, on these matters. Our church council does 95% of the running of the church but on major items of business, a new furnace, the budget and so forth, all the members are presented with well thought out proposals from the church council and they, men and women, invariably agree, in fact never has a proposal not been accepted as wise. The matter is discussed by men and women, the president says do we have a consensus, we always do and then we go drink coffee. Also, if the council hasn’t already done it we all, men and women, welcome new members into the church upon the pastor’s recommendation. There is at present one woman on the church council.

The pastor takes care of the rest. There has been only one excommunication since I have been here and the pastor excommunicated that person, the congregation was informed and they lent their voice to the call to repentance. There was no vote on whether the person was excommunicated, they already were. I find it odd that your congregation “votes” on an excommunication. Do members in your congregation (past or present) perform baptisms and celebrate the Sacrament? (Not a frivolous question, I know of instances where that has happened.)

I answered your questions, now mine (you, too, Anonymous and A WELS Pastor…)

Jo

Joanna L. said...

Dear Anonymous,

Having been gone I missed a number of posts and in reviewing I just came across this one.

You quote me when I wrote
"Why are you so afraid to answer my simple and straight forward question: How come there are women teaching men at Martin Luther College, at Wisconsin Lutheran College, at secular universities? How come women may vote in national elections?"

And you wrote:
�I and others have already tried to answer those questions for you here. But it's frustrating because you aren't responding to the actual points that are being made. You simply keep ignoring the answers and asking the same questions again. What specific parts of our explanations do you not understand or agree with?�

I am absolutely responding to the points you make and answers you gave. �A WELS Pastor� says, these women ministers are teaching religion. Irrelevant. WELS says women may not teach men, regardless of the subject. Anonymous says, WLC is not WELS. Irrelevant and not true. WLC is as much as affiliated with the WELS as is any school and its doctrine and practice is to be in accord with the WELS and that does not address MLC. And don�t try to lay blame on WLC, they have had women prof for many years, so has MLC. Then there was the ridiculous argument about whether these students are men. They are. Read MLC�s web site if you actually don�t believe that these men are men, or call the school. What part of this do you not understand? These objections/answers are false, according to WELS theology. You have not answered the questions I originally posed. You can�t because the answer is �WELS is wrong.�

I also missed this. You wrote

�Voting in a church and voting in the secular world are two different things. One is bound to follow God's will, one doesn't care a bit about God's will. There are many differences between the church and the world. Carefully reread previous comments for more on that distinction.�

Precisely. There are differences between the church and the world. The confusion in this regard is the WELS�, not mine. It is the WELS who says that what it calls the headship �principle,� that is, that a woman may not have authority over a man extends to society and a woman may not have authority over a man there. By the way, here is where WELS has it wrong, specifically on what, as you call it, the �principle,� where it is found and what is the auhtority Christ gives the Church. Please see my former posts on the issue of what is authority. If you need further elaboration on this point I will give it.

It is WELS who defines voting as an exercise of authority and it is the WELS who says that women may not vote in the church because by doing so she would be exercising authority over a man. Why then can she be allowed to vote, i.e. exercise authority over a man in the world, where the WELS says this principle applies? By the way, WELS used to say she couldn�t. For example read Prof. Wilbert Gawrish�s essay to the Michigan District delivered back in the 70�s. Also read the WELS Q/A where they equivocate on this.

What the vote is on is immaterial according to the WELS. Just because the world �doesn�t care about God�s will,� as you write, does that mean that a WELS woman may disregard God�s will as the WELS says it is for her in the world? Of course not. It is WELS doctrine that says she may not disregard this subservient role in the world. But it is the WELS who closes their eyes to what according to WELS doctrine is wrong. Again the confusion and hypocrisy is the WELS�. I haven�t even begun to address the hypocrisy when it comes to women in the work force. A young man in our church, a student at MLC asked his religion prof if a WELS woman could command men in the military, be a drill sergeant (can�t get much more authority than that). The prof wouldn�t answer the question.

By the way simply referencing some article doesn�t answer my questions if you thought they should. Anyway, answer the question, if you can, if you dare.

Jo

Anonymous said...

"They didn't cite other passages to make their point because there are no other passages which use that particular word. I believe one of the papers made that exact point. But they didn't "supply the definition of binding wills". They demonstrated quite thoroughly how that definition is inherent to that word itself. I don't know if you know Greek or not, but I don't, so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt on that point to the trained scholars."

You missed the point. Reread the papers, then reread my previous post. Yes, the word is used only once in Scripture, but as I wrote before, there ARE other passages in Scripture that deal with authority.

Maybe, just maybe, those passages could help us understand what this word in 1 Timothy means. These papers think not. Instead, they reference any number of pagan authors and get their definition from them. Instead of letting scripture interpret scripture, they let the pagans interpret scripture. A thorough demonstration it is, but using bad sources: pagan authors instead of other Scripture passages that do not use the same word, but still deal with authority. I already pointed to Matt. 28 as one example. Perhaps it is more than coincidence that both this passage and I Tim also talk about teaching.

Thank you for your post; it does identify one of the problems we have in the WELS. We are too quick to give our professors blind trust in what they do. "These men are Greek scholars, so they can't be wrong." Last time I checked, they were sinful human beings capable of making a mistake.

It seems odd that we who have the gospel freedom of everyone being a minister so quickly bow to the authority of our full-time public ministers. Not that we should show them disrespect; but we can't blindly assume that they are always right either. We in the WELS need to recognize that even our excellent Seminary profs may be wrong from time to time.

These papers are one of those times.

Anonymous said...

Jo,
My mistake. I'm not sure I know where to begin with you. I can't guess what has resurrected your anger but I don't have the time to find out.

One note though. My biblical understanding of excommunication, is that it is a duty given to the church. The called shepherd is normally the one who announces to the impenitent that they have cut themselves off, but it is not his work alone it is the congregation's-

THE PUBLIC USE OF THE KEYS
Second: How does a Christian congregation use the Keys?

A Christian congregation with its called servant of Christ uses the keys in accordance with Christ's command by forgiving those who repent of their sin and are willing to amend, and by excluding from the congregation those who are plainly impenitent that they may repent. I believe that when this is done, it is as valid and certain in heaven also, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us himself.

Where is this written?

Jesus says in Matthew, chapter 18, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Now you may hold to a Missouri view of Church and Ministry and say that Jesus was only speaking to Called Clergy and not to all Christians.

But in that case it appears your beliefs and confession are that of Missouri and not WELS. Have you considered that you may find a better, less frustrating home there.

Take that how you will but when you insist on labeling men that have been called to shepherd flocks as "cowards" and continue to show disdain for those who have sought to help you ("By the way simply referencing some article doesn't answer my questions if you thought they should. Anyway, answer the question, if you can, if you dare.") I am not sure anyone has the time or desire to continue to converse.

I wish you God's blessings Jo

Carry on all.

Pax

Joanna L. said...

Oh Silly Pax,

Nice tactic, attribute anger, when none exists, to someone whose arguments and questions you cannot answer. By the way, I answered your questions, but you still won't answer mine, not that I expected it. Luther belled the cat on this tactic long ago.

"When we cannot ward off the truth with any other pretext, we flee from it by ascribing to it a fierce temper, impatience and immodesty." (The Freedom of a Christian, AE 31, p. 335).

So should I do as you and say something like "calm down Pax, you seem so angry, what, were you not hugged enough as a child?" Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Settled? Ok, now read what I actually write. First, you wrote

"Now you may hold to a Missouri view of Church and Ministry and say that Jesus was only speaking to Called Clergy and not to all Christians."

You not only did not read what I wrote, you do not know the Missouri position, which is not as you say here. Where did I say "only" and "alone" are the keys given to their ministers? Neither I nor Missouri says that. Nice straw man, Pax. No, that is what Rome teaches. What I actually wrote was

"I maintain that proclaiming the gospel, forgiving sins, administering the sacraments and excommunicating the impenitent is the only authority Christ gave to his church which the church exercises through qualified, called and ordained men."

It seems you see words that aren't there (what other spooks plague you?) and you also do not see words that are there. Do you not see the words "Christ gave to his church…"? That is also the Missouri position, which is not as you misrepresent it to be. Here is their official position on that point.

"30. The Original and True Possessors of All Christian Rights and Privileges -- Since the Christians are the Church, it is self- evident that they alone originally possess the spiritual gifts and rights which Christ has gained for, and given to, His Church."

Do you see the words, "to, His Church"? So, Pax, you show yourself to be, at best, ignorant. What I wrote is the position of the Lutheran Confessions. It is the Tractatus which says

"Wherever the Church is, there is the authority to administer the Gospel. Therefore it is necessary for the church to retain the authority to call, elect and ordain ministers." (67)

Also

"Certainly, the common jurisdiction of excommunicating those guilty of clear crimes belongs to all pastors (1 Cor. 5)" (74).

You see Pax, the office is that by which the congregation uses the keys. And so the called and ordained man excommunicates. Now, don't hallucinate and see words that are not here, Pax. Did I say "only" or "without the church". No Pax. I said I find it odd that a church votes on an excommunication.

Cowards? Yes, perhaps though I should have used the Scriptural word, hireling. For what else would you call a called to be shepherd who flees and does not offer the Sacrament to those who desirous of it, as the Apology says Lutheran pastors do? (Can I assume you approve of the practice of withholding the Sacrament to those who desire it?)

So Pax, answer my questions, which you haven't. Disprove what I have written, by what I have ACTUALLY written - and referencing an article is no answer, for I have read all those articles and they do not answer the questions, and especially the questions I have put to you. And, if you don’t mind, the next time you attribute anger or disdain to someone, a little proof might be helpful. Let me help you: read a bit more carefully, Pax, and learn what you are commenting on before you comment. Disagreement does not equal disdain. No disdain is to ask someone to answer your questions (as I did yours), but not to return the favor, with a dash of condescension to boot. And that would characterize, well, you.

(And let me bait you one more time) I bet you won't. And there is a word for that. But perhaps we would be better served without your wisdom.

Copacetically yours,
Jo

Anonymous said...

Jo,

Just out of curiosity, are you a member of the Missouri synod? You just spent that entire last post defending the Missouri position on church and ministry (and making snide little comments about Pax). So, either you are a member of the Missouri synod, or, as Pax said, you probably should look into joining it.

As you said, the Missouri position isn't Romanism per se. But it is de facto Romanism. You made the point that you believe that the keys are given to the Church, but then quickly point out that the Church has entrusted their use to the pastors. In effect, the Missouri position states that the Church has the keys only in theory, but that in fact only the pastors actually have them, since only they can use them.

An example of this is your shock that a congregation would vote on excommunication. If the entire church really and actually has the keys, why shouldn't they vote on how to use them? How exactly does the congregation participate in the excommunication without voicing their vote? Having the pastor do it and then having the congregation do lip service to it through some sort of "everyone nod your head now" consensus, you are depriving the congregation of the use of the keys. Thus, by stating that only the pastor should excommunicate (with mere congregational lip service), you are stating that only the pastor has the ability to use the keys, and thus that the pastor is the only one who holds the keys in reality.

To sum it up, the Missouri position basically says this: "The keys briefly graze the hand of the Church as they are passed from Christ to the pastor." By making the keys briefly pass through the Church on the way from Christ to pastor, the Missouri synod tries to keep itself from Romanism, but really it's just a matter of playing little games to try to justify the position.

PCK said...

Jo said: "I said I find it odd that a church votes on an excommunication."

Why is that odd? It follows directly with Matthew 18: "Matthew 18:15-18 If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. "

If the impenitent refuses to listen to the church, Jesus gives the church, not the pastor or leader, the authority to excommunicate, to treat as a pagan or tax-collect. In verse 18, when Jesus says, "whatever you bind, whatever you lose," the pronoun "you" is plural in the Greek. It says nothing about an individual taking the full responsibility of excommunicating, but a group. That group is the church. The pastor does not run the church, the congregation runs the church. The pastor is nothing more than a shepherd of the congregation, who leads them in the Word and Sacraments. He is not a dictator or monarch who rules with an iron fist.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, why are some of you actually bothering to answer Jo? When someone calls you a coward and "dares" you to respond to her, you shouldn't fell any obligation to respond to such foolishness. She sounds like a teenager trying to get attention at any cost. Attempting to have a rational discussion with such a person is pointless.

RandomDan said...

May I make at least one suggestion to everyone who is commenting. If you are going to reference a website, please use html to link to it rather than just copying and pasting the web address directly into your comment. It makes life easier, especially when the address is longer than the space allowed.

The Ordination of Women and the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Anonymous said...

"She sounds like a teenager trying to get attention at any cost. Attempting to have a rational discussion with such a person is pointless."

Do you think the WELS doctrine on the roles of Men and Women leads to this condescending attitutute towards women, or is it just a midwestern thing?

Anonymous said...

Jo,
Wow, you are really good at this. I humbly admit I am not. Thank you for driving me back to scripture and the confessions. "So, Pax, you show yourself to be, at best, ignorant"- in many things yes, but I will seek to rectify that.

I am not sorry that I "took your bait". It will cause me to look closer at these issues. God willing I will grow and learn. I think you may be right on many of these things, and you certainly have great gifts and intellect but the ironic thing is, after your last post to me I still can't help but pity you.

Obviously I would like to have the last word here (though that is unlikely), but I would ask that you save your next brilliant, dismembering post for someone else.

Pax

UP said...

"Certainly, the common jurisdiction of excommunicating those guilty of clear crimes belongs to all pastors (1 Cor. 5)" (74).

pck and anonymouses,

You are not against Jo; you are against the Lutheran Confessions. Go back and read what she wrote.

Leave aside the emotions and answer her questions.

UP

"Joanna L." said...

Dear Anonymous #1,

Just out of curiosity do you actually read what is written or do you with your preconceived notions rush to make your accusations? It is obvious it is the latter. The "entire" post spoke of several things, not simply the matter at hand. Yes, the post defended the position of the Lutheran Confessions, which is the Missouri position on this point, and showed how the snide "Pax" mischaracterized the Missouri position, as I showed from the quote from Missouri’s own doctrinal statements. A mischaracterization that you offer as well by saying that Missouri says the Church only has the keys "in theory." You can caricature the Missouri Synod all you want, but perhaps you should prove your contention from what they officially say. It is tiresome, and it seems, pointless, to deal with people who simply make statements and do not support them. You write.

"You made the point that you believe that the keys are given to the Church, but then quickly point out that the Church has entrusted their use to the pastors."

I hope so for that is the Lutheran (if not your and the WELS) position. Have you not read the Augsburg Confession?

Article XIV. Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.

Do you believe that? Read the Tractatus which states,

"So the keys belong immediately to the entire Church, because the keys are nothing else than the office whereby this promise is communicate to every one who desires it, just as it is actually manifest that the Church has the power to ordain ministers of the Church." (24)

This is what I said when I wrote

"I maintain that proclaiming the gospel, forgiving sins, administering the sacraments and excommunicating the impenitent is the only authority Christ gave to his church which the church exercises through qualified, called and ordained men."

I purposely did not say that this is the position of the Lutheran Confessions so that WELS people would object and thereby show that their position is not that of the Lutheran Confessions.

You do as the condescending Pax did, add the word, "only" to what I have written and what Missouri states, when I or they do not write such a thing. You write

"In effect, the Missouri position states that the Church has the keys only in theory, but that in fact only the pastors actually have them, since only they can use them."

That is patently false. A Christian may most certainly "give an answer for the hope he has" and that is the position of the Missouri Synod. He may baptize in an emergency, and even if stranded in a boat offer absolution. But as Pax does, you set up the Missouri straw man, the common tactic of most in the WELS in this regard. However, no one (here is where you can finally put an "only"), NO ONE should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called. No one. Do you believe that, Anonymous #1? (Henceforth label yourself that so I can keep you Anonymouses straight.) As one wit once said, you read you views into what was written and are tickled to find them there.

You "sum up" the Missouri position

"The keys briefly graze the hand of the Church as they are passed from Christ to the pastor."

How poetic! What you characterize as "briefly [gazing] the hand" is what the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions call the call.

I am not Missouri Synod, but as Pax said, you probably should look into joining it, for it teaches correctly on this issue.

Just Groovin’
Jo

PS To the anonymous just left the note about not answering me "Hi, Jennifer!"

"Joanna L." said...

Dear PCK,

What "excommunicates" someone? The "someone" does so by their impenitence. Impenitence is not voted on, it is called to repentance, it is proved by two or three and it is "told" to the church. The church certainly binds/retains the sins of those who remain impenitent, and (as I have been saying) the church gives the pastor the keys (not just one, but both) to do so on its behalf. You seem to have confused the "telling to the church" with the act of excommunication> One is "out" of the "communion" through impenitence. Yes, that final announcement is often called excommunication, but the real deal happened long before. Yes, you (pl.), the whole church, binds/retains sins through time, with her called and ordained men who bind and retain sins.

Funny, but do you agree with the following (I would guess not)?

"The Common jurisdiction of excommunicating those guilty of clear crimes belongs to all pastors."

Now you do, as Anonymous #1 did when he/she wrote:

"Thus by stating that only the pastor should excommunicate (with mere congregational lip service) you are stating that only the pastor has the ability to use the keys, and thus that the pastor is the only one who holds the keys in reality."

You, for your part, write

"t says nothing about an individual taking the full responsibility of excommunicating, but a group."

Yes, the church, through her called and ordained man, does that. Once again you read into what is not present. And as Anonymous # 1, you set up the straw man. Nowhere do I write that the called and ordained man does this without the authority given him by the church, nor that he does it when impenitence is not manifest. We were not discussing what led up to an excommunication, but simply that the pastor turns this key which the church has given to him. Indeed there must be impenitence, it needs to be shown, proved and told to the church.

You finally blurt out (did you have a bad experience here?):

"[The pastor] is not a dictator or monarch who rules with an iron fist."

Let’s hope not, but the called and ordained man has been entrusted with the authority which Christ gave the church which it calls him to exercise or by which he rules, and that is, to proclaim the Gospel, to forgive sins, to administer the Sacraments, AND TO EXCOMMUNICATE.

Do you agree with this?

Have a super day,
Jo

PCK said...

UP said: "pck and anonymouses,

You are not against Jo; you are against the Lutheran Confessions. Go back and read what she wrote.

Leave aside the emotions and answer her questions.

UP"

So I should base my view on the Lutheran Confessions, rather than on a clear passage from scripture that speaks specifically to excommunication? Sorry, won't do it.

PCK

Anonymous said...

John,

What have you done to this place? It's gone from a place for humbly discussing issues facing the WELS to a place for crypto-Missourians to rudely promote their doctrine.

Bring Aaron Peders back!

John said...

What have I done? I have allowed a blog be a form for discussing concerns and issues in the WELS and/or Lutheranism.

Please speak to Aaron and tell him to drop me a note. Otherwise, put some effort forth and redirect the discussion or start a new WELS topic.

Anonymous said...

True story:

I once belonged to a LCMS church whose pastor was severely handicapped. The elders (laymen) of the congregation did almost everything in that church. They taught the Bible classes, they visited the shut-ins, they even presided at worship and read the sermon. But when it came time for Communion they wheeled the pastor's wheelchair up to the altar so that he could mumble (he wasn't able to speak properly) the Words of Institution. Apparently as the pastor he was the only one who had the special, magical, ordination power that we laymen didn't.

Sorry, but that's Romanism. That's not what the Confessions ever intended.

up said...

"So I should base my view on the Lutheran Confessions, rather than on a clear passage from scripture that speaks specifically to excommunication? Sorry, won't do it."

Um, are you a WELS member? Or a member of any Lutheran church body? If so, you should know that our pastors at their ordinations unconditionally subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions because they are a correct exposition of Scripture.

Matthew 18 doesn't say, "go tell it to the congregation so the voters can decide whether to excommunicate him." The church makes use of the binding and loosing keys THROUGH its called and ordained pastors. At the communion rail, it is the pastor's responsibility to exclude the openly impenitent. He doesn't stop the service and take a vote before doing this.

A major practical weakness of excommunicating via the voters' assembly is that too much sympathy or fear of disunity could sway the vote and not get the necessary majority or unanimous outcome to remove someone who is truly impenitent and has by his own actions already removed himself from the church.


UP

"Joanna L." said...

Dear PCK,

I am sure others will jump in on this, and you can ask your own pastor about this, but the Lutheran Confessions, with which you disagree, are the correct interpretation of Scripture. Lutherans do not interpret the Confessions according to Scripture, but the Scriptures according to the Confessions, BECAUSE the confessions ARE our interpretation on these matters. If you cannot agree with the Lutheran Confessions, you have ceased to be a Lutheran, and according to the Lutheran Church you do not agree with Scripture. It is a sad victory for me to see that I have engineered you into disagreeing with the Lutheran Confessions, but some good may come of it if it drives you into a study of them, and perhaps your pastor as well.

By the way, if all of you could get past accusing me of being angry and if you would simply address the issues, we’d all be a lot happier, and I would not have to defend myself (I thought I was being quite clever by using the same ploy that the brave Anonymouses were using in attacking me, it seems some of you forget who started it. I should have been wiser than these Anonymouseseseses).

Someone (I think it is Jennifer, I really do) wrote that this has become a forum for crypto-Missourians "to rudely promote their doctrine." Certain teaching and practices are been examined and are being shown for what they are. Yes, I know that WELS people get very testy when their doctrine is challenged and especially when they have no answer, then they get even madder and more dismissive and will not rise to the challenge. (One even has to dare the brave souls to answer). I was that way once, but I submitted what I thought I knew to the Scriptures and the LUtheran Confessions and admitted, I was wrong, yes, the WELS is wrong on these issues. Yes, you may not agree with me, but do more than accusing me of being angry and rude and "Missourian" and stop setting up one straw man after another. Answer the questions, refute what I have written (what I have actually written), and convince me, if you can. For I am always pleased to be shown how wrong I was - not great on the ego, but wonderful for the soul.

Cool as the underside of the pillow,

Jo

up said...

"True story:

I once belonged to a LCMS church whose pastor was severely handicapped. The elders (laymen) of the congregation did almost everything in that church. They taught the Bible classes, they visited the shut-ins, they even presided at worship and read the sermon. But when it came time for Communion they wheeled the pastor's wheelchair up to the altar so that he could mumble (he wasn't able to speak properly) the Words of Institution. Apparently as the pastor he was the only one who had the special, magical, ordination power that we laymen didn't.

Sorry, but that's Romanism. That's not what the Confessions ever intended."

You're right. The Lutheran Confessions never intended unordained elders to publicly preach without a proper call. (AC XIV) Incidentally, it sounds like that pastor should have been retired.

How is it ok to use LCMS anecdotes in this discussion but not WELS anecdotes? Every observation that comes up from WELS congregations is assumed to be a difference of "application" but not "principle", but an observation from an LCMS congregation is supposed to indict that entire church body?


At least be fair. We are discussing official WELS doctrinal statements, so if you wish to discuss the LCMS, please use their official doctrinal statements (as someone did above).

UP

Anonymous said...

"So I should base my view on the Lutheran Confessions, rather than on a clear passage from scripture that speaks specifically to excommunication? Sorry, won't do it."

First, you're ignorant about the Confessions being contrary to a "clear passage from scripture." Second, do you own or have you ever read the Confessions? If you are WELS then you unconditionally subscribe to them. Maybe it is time for you to learn what you publicly confess.

PCK said...

Jo and UP:

I don't disagree with the Lutheran Confessions. I just had to go back to see what they said. Doing that, I see where you are coming from and understand your point of view. The mistake is on my end mostly, but Jo, your explanation left something to be desired. Your explanation didn't seem to be fully there. As a result, I jumped to a conclusion. I apologize.

I do also understand that leaving the excommunicating to a congregational vote can lead to a wide range of emotions. At a congregation I used to attend, if someone at the voters meeting objected the excommunication was halted, and that person who objected was asked to go and personally speak with the person who was to be officially excommunicated.

I don't know why excommunications are brought before a voter's assembly and voted on. The Pastor, with his board of elders, must show from scripture why this person is excommunicating him/herself from our fellowship. Perhaps, it needs only mentioning in a voter's assembly so that the congregation is aware of what happened and why it happened, and that's it.

Anonymous said...

"How is it ok to use LCMS anecdotes in this discussion but not WELS anecdotes?"

Are you kidding me? I think the score is now:

WELS anecdotes: 137
LCMS anecdotes: 1

Doesn't feel good when someone finds a poor example of the synod's teaching and then generalizes that the entire synod must be like that, does it?

"At least be fair. We are discussing official WELS doctrinal statements"

Come now, let's be fair. How many anecdotes have we heard about WLC and MLC? How many anecdotes has John himself used about things he has seen or asked various WELS pastors? How many times has the WELS been accused of "discrepancies" by comparing two anecdotes?

Give me a break. If we really want to make this a discussion of WELS vs. LCMS, There will be 10,000x times more anecdotes from the Misery Synod, believe me. Who wants to talk about Ablaze or Yankee Stadium?

Anonymous said...

John,

I never read this blog when Aaron was running it. I've been reading it for a few weeks now since you have. The statements you post to generate discussion, as well as the responses, are, for the most part, disgusting.

If someone outside of our circles read this blog, why would they even want to be a part of our synod or attend one of our churches?

Sad, sad, sad.

UP said...

" How many anecdotes have we heard about WLC and MLC?"

So, it's an anecdote to claim that female professors are teaching male students at MLC? No. It's clear from their public statements that they are.

"How many times has the WELS been accused of "discrepancies" by comparing two anecdotes?"

Many times because there are discrepancies in WELS practice/application/whatever, even though many still cling to the ridiulous notion that the WELS is completely united.

"If we really want to make this a discussion of WELS vs. LCMS,"

We don't. You (at least I assume you are THAT anonymous) brought it up.

"There will be 10,000x times more anecdotes from the Misery Synod, believe me."

Darn right there will be!

"Who wants to talk about Ablaze or Yankee Stadium?"

No one. Both are terrible and many in the LCMess know it.

The LCMS is terribly disjointed and most in the synod will admit that, with sadness. However, the same is true in the WELS.

"Doesn't feel good when someone finds a poor example of the synod's teaching and then generalizes that the entire synod must be like that, does it?"

Nope. Doesn't affect my feelings at all. And why are you trying to hurt my feelings?

UP :)

John said...

...disgusting. If someone outside of our circles read this blog, why would they even want to be a part of our synod or attend one of our churches?

Disgusting...that is one of the reasons people are posting because they have become disgusted with what is happening in the synod.

Should we close our eyes and fall in line like lemmings?

Maybe this blog has lost that loving feeling or maybe the synod has lost a love for the Confessions. I'm anxiously waiting for the review from this week's C&C conference.

Anonymous said...

"Give me a break. If we really want to make this a discussion of WELS vs. LCMS..."

What makes you think that is really what anyone wants to do?

I don't think any of the questioners here ever framed the issue as WELS v. LCMS--I'm not sure that would even be very productive. Look, I take no joy in questioning someone's integrity or intelligence, but are you reading the same blog I am? Some of the responders on here understand that these are serious subjects worth study and consideration (and even reconsideration). If you can't understand that then I don't think your continued participation will benefit anyone, especially yourself.

LM

(Are you still out there Semwife? Some of these posts have a familiar ring to them.)

Martin Luther said...

If you will allow people with sensitive feelings to judge, they would consider no person more stinging and unrestrained in his denunciations than Paul. Who is more stinging than the prophets? Nowadays, it is true, we are made so sensitive by the raving crowd of flatterers that we cry out that we are stung as soon as we meet with disapproval. When we cannot ward off the truth with any other pretext, we flee from it by ascribing to it a fierce temper, impatience and immodesty. What is the good of salt if it does not bite? (The Freedom of a Christian, AE 31, p. 335)

Anonymous said...

"I don't think any of the questioners here ever framed the issue as WELS v. LCMS"

No one has been blunt enough to frame the issue that way. Nevertheless, that's exactly what it has become. It's obvious that some on this board hold to the WELS doctrinal position and some hold to the LCMS position. The very things that have been argued here are exactly the same things that have been argued between the synods for over 70 years. I don't think there's going to be some sort of break-through here on this blog. Sorry to say, John, this has gone from a place to discuss current issues facing the WELS to a place for rehashing old arguments for no reason.

"Joanna L." said...

PCK wrote,

"The mistake is on my end mostly, but Jo, your explanation left something to be desired. Your explanation didn't seem to be fully there. As a result, I jumped to a conclusion. I apologize."

I forgive you. Though I may disagree with your accessment of my explanation I am happy to hear that you were driven to the Lutheran Confessions, I'll take that.

Slip sliding away,
Jo

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

Anonymous writes,

"The very things that have been argued here are exactly the same things that have been argued between the synods for over 70 years. I don't think there's going to be some sort of break-through here on this blog. Sorry to say, John, this has gone from a place to discuss current issues facing the WELS to a place for rehashing old arguments for no reason."

Don't listen to him, John.

Pardon the anaglogy, but the above comment is kind of like Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu saying aboard the USS Missouri "Let's call it a draw."

The issues discussed above are new to the old debates and are shedding light on weaknesses in the WELS position, especially on what is the authority of the church that God forbids women to have. Knowing what this auhority is has much to say about what the Holy Ministry is and who may serve in it. The, I assume, WELS posters who found themselves in disagreement with the Concordia and the posters (WELS pastors included) refusal to answer simple questions shows how the WELS expansive view of this Office is deficient at best and contrary to our received Confession. This discussion then is fruitful, bruised WELS egos aside. The complaints about who is hurting whose feelings is nothing other throwing dust in the air.

This post is not written to add light to the debate (I can do that later), a bit of heat, I'm sure, but to voice my opinion that it has value. And having been WELS for many years I know why there is a reluctance to wander too far from the WELS doctrinal statements, even and especially if that trek takes them to the Holy Scriptures as intereted in the Lutheran Confessions.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

Anonymous said...

John,

You wrote:

"Should we close our eyes and fall in line like lemmings?"

No, we should not fall in line like lemmings. But this is not the way or the place to change things. These things should be discussed in congregational meetings, pastoral conferences and synod conventions, etc., etc. All you're doing here is (in many of the posts) violating the law of love and breaking the 8th Commandment.

Anonymous said...

"All you're doing here is (in many of the posts) violating the law of love and breaking the 8th Commandment."

So predictable. Read what the Large Chatechism has to say about the 8th commandment, then kindly retract this false accusation.

A WELS Pastor said...

"So predictable. Read what the Large Chatechism has to say about the 8th commandment, then kindly retract this false accusation."

This is the standard line by those who are contentious. It excuses anything and everything, as if contending for the faith nullifies the law of love. I've seen my share of church controversies, and when they happen, it's like the gloves come off. Whatever happened to speaking the truth in love? For many of the posts, as well as many of the initial articles on this blog, I simply don't see it. Don't use what the Large Catechism says about the 8th Commandment as an excuse for letting your sinful flesh run rampant.

Anonymous said...

Dear a wels pastor,

How about answering even 1 of the questions that have been put to you in these comments instead of pontificating?

mav said...

John,

Keep posting. Yes, these things should have been discussed at pastor's conferences and synod conventions for decades. That they were not shows incredible cowardice and irresponsibility. Especially the pastors who are posting should be able to explain why they teach what they teach and to answer questions posed by laypeople.

That they either can't or have chosen not to demonstrates very clearly that there are big problems in our synod.

mav

Anonymous said...

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg,
I downloaded and read "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Man" Although you did not right it (I figured it was "Jo" who did), can you help me understand what it was about the paper that led to der Berg Brudern no longer being WELS rostered?

If you truly want to help people understand where we have erred in the WELS (and from Peter's paper I feel that you do) then can you objectively explain what it was that brought about your dismissal?

I know that there are many who will simply make blanket statements like, "DP's are the antichrist and the Bergs were given the boot for no reason at all". What I would like to hear is (whether wrong or right) what part of the paper, or subsequent events led to this.

I hope that I am not asking too much of you (don't take that negatively) but I would like to understand.

Thanks in advance,

Pax

Anonymous said...

"Yes, these things should have been discussed at pastor's conferences and synod conventions for decades. That they were not shows incredible cowardice and irresponsibility."

What a ridiculous foolish thing to say! These things are discussed very often at pastor's conferences. I would advise that you repent for you sins of slander and lack of respect for those whom God has placed over you.

John said...

All you're doing here is (in many of the posts) violating the law of love and breaking the 8th Commandment.

Anonymous since you have publicly accused me of sin, I now need you to give me a specific case. I have only spoken about situations I have observed and been apart of. And I have spoken to the names listed. Yet it continues.

Due to this blog, I have recently communicated with Pres. Schroeder. about my concerns and issues.

So either repent for falsely accusing me or point to a specific sin.

Rev. Fr. Peter M. Berg said...

"What a ridiculous foolish thing to say! These things are discussed very often at pastor's conferences. I would advise that you repent for you sins of slander and lack of respect for those whom God has placed over you."

Although, I'm not the person you are writing to, what a ridiculous thing to say! No, they are not discussed at pastor's conferences. During my 30 years as a WELS pastor, nothing of substance was ever discussed at pastors' conferences. During my discussions with the MI District praesidium about my crypto-Missourianism, I repeat, nothing of substance was ever discussed.

You've never answered any questions posted on this blog; you've never substantiated a charge of heresy. My detractors never showed me from the Scriptures or the Confessions where I've been wrong nor have even attempted to do so. My apologies to John, an honorable man, but this blog has become worthless, so

Sayonara,
Rev. Fr. Peter M. Berg
(Sorry, Mr. Schottey, I'm not Jo)

Anonymous said...

"What a ridiculous foolish thing to say! These things are discussed very often at pastor's conferences. I would advise that you repent for you sins of slander and lack of respect for those whom God has placed over you."

You have no idea where I've been, so don't be so quick with a charge of slander. From my experience, at WELS pastors' conferences the issues that are brought up are trivial and superficial and never, ever question WELS doctrinal statements and end without serious study being done.

As for synod conventions, anyone with internet access could see that the last convention dealt much more with finances than anything to do with doctrine because it is assumed that the doctrine is fine, so it is never discussed. "We keep it's teachings pure."?

Anonymous said...

The claim was that these issues were not discussed for decades at pastor's conference. Would you like to offer proof (outside your own limited experience) to substantiate the claim that there has been a total lack of discussion on any of these issues throughout the entire synod? If you can't prove that, repent.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Fr Berg but I'm not Schottey

I sincerely would like to understand if it was simply the criticism of the WELS that was the problem or what specifically about the paper is thought to be false.

To use your words, I am trying to "approach this subject from the starting point of these deeper realities" without rancor. I am trying to understand better your section on "A More Excellent Way".

Help a brother out here. Is this teaching- that Christ's incarnation as a Man being more than just a choice between Male or Female but a representation of the fact that "He was the Son of the Father, that he conferred the Holy Ministry on MEN to fulfill the role of Adam as a type of Christ and of God the Father-- Is this teaching so very different from any understanding that has been accepted in the WELS that it has been declared false?

I ask because I see wisdom (don't pat yourself on the back) here.

Pax

Anonymous said...

"The claim was that these issues were not discussed for decades at pastor's conference. Would you like to offer proof (outside your own limited experience) to substantiate the claim that there has been a total lack of discussion on any of these issues throughout the entire synod? If you can't prove that, repent."

Would you like to offer proof that they have been discussed and studied in more than a cursory self-congratulatory way at pastors' conferences for decades? (Oh wait, that's right, from what I read above we aren't allowed to use WELS anecdotes, even if those anecdotes are what we and other witnesses have seen and heard; I'll just move on)

If they have been studied so carefully, as you seem to think, why have the very serious questions being raised on this blog comment list not been answered by the WELS? Also, if the issues of the public ministry, the roles of women, voters' assemblies, and the like have been given in-depth study and if WELS pastors have been able to find evidence to support the WELS positions in the Scriptures and the Confessions, then why has no one on this extremely long list of comments been able to answer simple questions like

1) Why are women teaching at MLC and WLC?

2) Why are WELS women allowed to vote in government elections?

Anonymous said...

"If they have been studied so carefully, as you seem to think, why have the very serious questions being raised on this blog comment list not been answered by the WELS?"

You really expect "the WELS" to answer the questions here? Our leaders have far more important things to do than to troll the cesspools of the blogosphere on the off chance that there might be a question that they need to answer.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

To signatory "Pax,"

And shalom to you. Considering this forum a short answer will have to suffice. The article penned by Fr. Peter Berg was apparently labeled false doctrine by the WELS conference of presidents. Paul Janke wrote to me and said little more than it was not WELS, he did not provide any Scriptural or Confessional proof or analysis, really (You can ask him to see his March 11, 2004 letter to me if you do not believe me). For example Fr. Berg took issue with the use of the word "public" as it is used in WELS literature. Janke countered that the WELS uses the word, period. (Oh, the Magpie offered him the pages of our journal to respond, he didn't even respond to that offer.) He said it was "classic" Missouri teaching. Good enough, I guess.

I was asked to disavow that article and I declined. I repeatedly asked him to show me where the errors were in that paper and in what I personally wrote in the Motley Magpie. He never showed me where I was in error. The Magpie found the soft spots of WELS doctrine and practice and it had to be silenced. There were a couple attendant matters that are really immaterial to discuss at this point and you would not believe it unless you saw all the letters and witnessed the meetings.

Fr. Berg's article as well as his "lutheran lady lectors" and "lutheran lady celebrants" will help you begin to understand. The WELS does not look ontologically at these matters but centers all its prohibitions in the law. As the relationship between Christ and the church reflects the ontological reality of the Holy Trinity, so the Ministry of Christ continues through his called and ordained men who serve His Holy Bride. That Christologically iconic relationship (Christ and his Bride) is created in man, this is a part of the image of God, the husband-wife, giver-receiver relationship. All authority which Christ has, he has given to his church to be exercised through those who stand in his stead and give mouth and hand in service to the church. This is not the authority of the world, to boss about, bind wills and so forth (per the WELS) but the authority to serve with the blessed mysteries. This a man must do who stands in an iconic relationship to Christ, thus the prohibitions in 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2-3. And yes, the women stands in an iconic relationship to Christ, but not in this manner - as husband or pastor as one in stead of Christ in this relationship. Look at 1 Timothy 2. She must be silent for Adam was formed first. Eve's sin was not simply that she got the command wrong, that too, but that she spoke. Pastor Adam had that job, failed and so the second Adam came, and men born of Adam must speak in the stead of the second Adam (no estrogen here) to the Bride, the Church.

The WELS does not understand that these Christologically iconic relationships do not exist outside of these relationships that God has given. Where those relationships exist, the husband or pastor loves his wife or church as Christ the Bridegroom and Shepherd loves the Bride or church. The pastor/Christ serves the church/Bride of Christ with the blessed means of salvation. This is the office. That is the authority. No women. Yet outside of those relationship the law or reason reigns. The WELS sends her women out to be subservient to men with whom they do not have these relationships. The WELS rightly appeals to the order of creation, but they miss the ontological underpinnings of the relationship and they miss the scope of the relationship. In short, my wife gives her submission (which means to receive) to me and to her pastor, oh that would be me, too. She doesn't have to submit to any other man, other than constituted authorities, be they men or women. She is polite and demur and too good for me (like I had to say that), and like many Christian women she has had authority over men, and votes.

The article by Fr. Peter Berg discusses these things and the WELS would have none of it for it saw the implications.

This too is the short answer. But it will give you something to chew on. There are other matters that we took issue with the WELS and you can read all about it in the Motley Magpie.

Cordially,
Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

Michael Schottey said...

Fr. P Berg.

You should know by now, I am far too loudmouthed to ever go by anonymous. I have not responded to this, but I will. Unlike many, I enjoy giving things a while to sit and think rationally about things before I write them.

And yes, for you keeping score at home, that was a admonishment to both sides.

In Nomine Jesu
Michael A. Schottey
theshepherdsvoice.blogspot.com

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

Anonymous writes,

"You really expect 'the WELS' to answer the questions here? Our leaders have far more important things to do than to troll the cesspools of the blogosphere on the off chance that there might be a question that they need to answer."

No, but there might be a kindly WELS layman or lay woman, even pastor (I noticed some have commented here and many are reading - this blog is all the rage), who is capable of answering these simple questions.

Cesspool? My, my, such tone. Well, I think it is a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

Anonymous said...

"Don't use what the Large Catechism says about the 8th Commandment as an excuse for letting your sinful flesh run rampant."

I think you go too far "a WELS Pastor." If you think I've let my "sinful flesh run rampant" you need to substantiate that.

LM

A WELS teacher said...

Mike I have been keeping score and I think that it is tied right now.

As I've been sitting on the sideline, I do appreciate this blog. I will tell you that nothing of substance is discussed on theological terms at teachers' conferences or at District conventions (I can't speak for the pastors). I now that in some districts women teachers can vote at teachers' conferences and other dp's will not allow women teachers to vote at conferences. So there is a lack of consistency in that matter. The issues that John's (or Aaron's) blog has taken up are valued and need a forum. Don't beat him down cause your side is losing.

Pr. J. Berg I appreciate your "short" answer on how things went down. There has been much speculation on this.

I'm only a teacher so my voice holds no weight, but there are some strange things going on in the WELS.

Anonymous said...

"Unlike many, I enjoy giving things a while to sit and think rationally about things before I write them."

From the mouth of a future WELS pastor--no wonder they are never wrong.

John said...

Our leaders have far more important things to do than to troll the cesspools of the blogosphere on the off chance that there might be a question that they need to answer.

Mr. Anonymous I do know (for a fact) that several WELS leaders have dropped by ..for whatever reason. So be careful what you call those trolls and this pool of pure water. You might even be surprised who might post without the anonymous cloak one day.

I'm thinking about changing the name of the blog...Come to the WELS...

Michael Schottey said...

Dear Anonymous @ 10:14 pm on Oct 18,

For all the "8th commandments" that are thrown around here, you'd think you'd be more careful.

If you'd like, in fact, one day...even if you don't. Someone will go through the comments and find all the things typed in haste that are contextually and scripturally inaccurate.

What I said was not said in a tone of arrogance, but rather admonishment. That we all should apply Proverbs 15:18. Or in secular terms think BEFORE you write.

RandomDan said...

I'm thinking about changing the name of the blog...Come to the WELS...

Don't get me started on WELS connection. I won't stop ranting if I do.

I have to agree with what Fr. Berg said and take it farther. I have discussed this with my wife (whose major is theology) and we are in general agreement on tis. We both believe Christology in general is a weakness for the WELS. Don't feel bad. It's also a major problem in the LCMS, and I should know. It goes beyond the public ministry and into such things as infrequency of communion and the elimination of the Gloria Patri from canticles in the Common Service (and why it doesn't appear in the other services).

I know all about the topic discussed here. Before I came to the WELS, my last LCMS church had women elders. They were serving communion to all the communicants. Many of you would say it was wrong because a woman was in authority over a man. I said it was wrong because what was happening at the communion rail was outright paganism. Gaia in an alb. I told the church they were dying and would be dead before they know it. So far, I am being proved right.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg,
Thank you for your time and the brotherly love to answer even an anonymous Pax.

Authority to serve is often the phrase we use when discussing Paul’s words to Husbands in Eph 5. Only and always based on the relationship of Christ and His Bride (with your words- the Christologically iconic relationship).

I guess I have never thought we taught that there was a difference between that and the roles of M/W in the home or the church. Those who have been given responsibility/headship in the home, those who are leaders in the church, those who have been called to be under shepherds are all to serve, love, sacrifice, teach, lead so that those they have “authority” over are cared for, guided and fed by Word and Sacrament. Authority based in sacrificial love (because HE loved first) not in command of the Law.

Why are women allowed to teach at MLC? Because they have not stepped into or been placed into this role of authority. I don’t believe they teach subjects or in settings that find them standing in Christ’s stead.

Why are WELS women allowed to vote in government elections? Because it does not place them into this role of authority. Honestly if my wife went out to vote in a general election, and voted opposite of me (N.B. not just personal preference, but to specifically cancel out my vote) than I believe that runs counter to Paul’s words to wives in Eph 5 and I would rather not have her vote.

I am chewing Rev. Fr. Berg, and I appreciate your focus on the beauty of the gospel promise and picture rather than a threat of the law.

Question: In what ways is my understanding above different from
your short answer? Is it simply a question of how far that relationship extends?

Answer if you have the time, but don't neglect the sheep to do so.

Pax

A WELS teacher said...

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg,

As you find time to answer Pax, I'm also interested in how many of the brothers called to offer you encouragement during and after your "trial"? or did most turn their head? ...I would imagine the WELS pastor from above did because he so concerned about showing love.

Rev.Fr. John W. Berg said...

Anonymous Pax,

I think you have the gist of it but first a couple of observations. As I think you believe, this authority (which is to serve) and submission (which is to receive) is a relationship thing, that is, you do not have one without the other, when the relationship exists in Christ, this is how it forms, giver and receiver. It is ontological, it is this way because it is iconic of the relationship within the Holy Trinity and of Christ and His Bride. This is where some earlier posts had it not quite right. Some have said, I have heard this is the WELS. Not really, they would say we are to model our relationship (primarily the husband-wife one) after Christ's love for his Church. Yes, we are to be that way BECAUSE that is how we were made, the is part of the image in which we were created, but sin messed that up. It is the chicken and egg thing.

You write,

"Why are women allowed to teach at MLC? Because they have not stepped into or been placed into this role of authority. I don’t believe they teach subjects or in settings that find them standing in Christ’s stead."

I would agree with you here. Trouble is, the WELS doesn’t. They would say a woman can stand in Christ's stead iconicly imaging him to the students, as Christ to his bride. As Fr. Peter Berg very bluntly but very accurately said, this is "ecclesiastical lesbianism."

(By the way this is why homosexuality is wrong, and why WELS never gets the heart of the issue when it comes to this sin. The condemnations come across as mere arbitrary rules of God. It is not simply because God condemns it, true, but why? Because the homosexual relationship doesn't image Christ and the church, you have giver and giver, or receiver and receiver. It is rejecting how God made you and saying God since this is your image and I don't like it, I don't like you. (To get real, try putting a plug into a plug, it doesn't fit, if you don’t put it into an outlet you put it in a wrong place and then you get fried, literally.)

WELS, however, simply says it is about the law, the law that a woman can't be in authority (i.e. the boss) over men. She can't teach men, it doesn't matter what the subject is. So then what happens, you end up with all the absurdities that some earlier posters vainly tried to get WELS people to see. And you come up with all sorts of absurd answers, like the ones I used to give when the scales were still on. The most absurd, the men at MLC and WLC aren't men. Oh, please. These "boys" are getting married, they are holding down jobs, some have fought for our country. Boys? Sheesh, tell them that. Then you have the other dodge. Well, this teaching isn't authoritative teaching. This is why women are slowly being allowed to give "presentations" or "testimonies" in church services. So when you wrongly call authority, binding wills, as does WELS you just say this is not binding a will, therefore it is not authority, therefore a woman can do it. In the Magpie I noted how a WELS Q/A seminary prof said, that "since most view preaching a sermon as exercising authority" he wouldn't think it wise for a woman to read a man-written sermon. What happens when most don't?

The other dodge WELS uses for women in the world (where we know these relationship don't exist, contrary to the WELS) where WELS says woman may not be in authority, it says, sometimes they are in positions of RESPONSIBILITY. Notice how authority becomes responsibility? Do you see where this leads? You simply change the meaning of words so that they don’t mean what they say. When some posters tried to show this, and let us use words that mean what they say, hypocrisy, the fur flies and the discussion reduces to who broke the 8th commandment the most, with some young pup on the side presumptuously claiming to keep score. Get over it. I have been called some pretty amazing things on this web site and others, and have I deterred from the subject? And for all you objectors out there, please deal with the issues and not things like my title, ok?)

The problem for the WELS is that people, such as you, see this hypocrisy and are troubled. Worse is that women who do have authority over men are often troubled or irritated in their conscience and are sinning against their consciences. This is a serious matter. The WELS word play doesn't fool them. Again, the problem with the WELS is that they view this only as prohibitions and that it applies to you as a male or to you as a female, not in the Christological relationships. Females, look out into the world, submit. Scary, isn’t it. Saying, women do his out of love for Jesus still doesn't make it Gospel, it is still law.

You write,

"Why are WELS women allowed to vote in government elections? Because it does not place them into this role of authority. Honestly if my wife went out to vote in a general election, and voted opposite of me (N.B. not just personal preference, but to specifically cancel out my vote) than I believe that runs counter to Paul's words to wives in Eph 5 and I would rather not have her vote."

I would agree with you partly here. But really, what women votes to "cancel out" her husband's vote? But regardless, isn't every vote a vote to cancel out a vote on the other side? If your wife votes differently than you, she in effect cancels out your vote. Hey, let me play WELS, she is just canceling out some pagan's vote. That will make it better. You did not intend this, but WELS does use this logic. They allow women to do things, like voting… if their spirit is right. (This is the standard answer to the voting in national elections question.) Ok, fine. How about at church? Suddenly they go back to voting is authority, no women may vote, and the WELS ends up chasing its tail.

You finally ask "Is it simply a question of how far that relationship extends?" I would say, where does the relationship exist. Again, the WELS says, if you have a man or a woman in contact with each other, any man, any women, no authority, i.e. being in charge for women. Scripture says, I am uniquely a man or a woman in the God given, God-imaging relationships he has given. But again, WELS doesn't see this and so you end up with people saying that 25 year old men with two kids and having fought in Iraq who decide to go to MLC or WLC (or any secular university) becomes a boy and/or the women teacher isn’t teaching. Try selling that and fewer and fewer are buying.

I believe that women may not be pastor may not be the mate of a women and they may teach and vote and big money (like my wife) as a boss and even run the country, yep vote for Hilliary, if she wants.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

Dear A WELS Teacher,

A handful, and I don't know if "A WELS pastor" above did, I know a few "A WELS pastors" but if he is a lover of the truth he did. But you know sect. It's funny, after I tell my story, the whole story (and I'm done doing that) there is absolute silence, the silence of unbelief, "you've got to be making this up" or the silence of fear.

By the way, I am not asking anyone here to believe me, you weren't there nor did you read the letters. You can believe everything was honorable if you wish. And if you wish, you can believe like one poster on LutherQuest, one "Jennifer" whose handle is "Semwife" who said, I don't know why he was kicked out but it was for a good reason.

You've got to admire that zeal!

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

Anonymous said...

Pastor Berg,

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your position, but would you mind demonstrating from Scripture why your position is correct? It makes sense, is logical, and solves several problems, but I'd like to see that it's something actually found in Scripture and not just something imposed on Scripture.

Thanks.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

Anonymous,

You write,

"I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your position, but would you mind demonstrating from Scripture why your position is correct? It makes sense, is logical, and solves several problems, but I'd like to see that it's something actually found in Scripture and not just something imposed on Scripture."

Two points. Sure, but I've got a sermon and service to prepare for contrary to what the WELS reported after they removed our congregation form the synod without anyone coming to talk to them,even though we invited them, but the district president refused because we imposed the restiction that they would have to answer questions, really, that our congregation "closed", I still have a church... where was I, oh,

and the passages are there in what I wrote (just not the references), so I think you know the texts, which you should look at. Theology, also though, is often the taking of the whole and seeing what God is saying to us. Yes, it is nice to have a single passage or passages which say it all, but the Spirit doesn't always do it that way (cf. the doctrine of the Holy Trinity), sometimes the truth unfolds. In this regard you find another problem in the WELS, it's new hermeneutic, and I quote Paul Janke in his letter in which he called Fr. Peter Berg a heretic (Peter is a lot of horrible things, very, very bad things, but he is not a heretic), WELS says that doctrine must come not from "descriptive passages" but "prescriptive" ones. Ok, form a doctrine of the Holy Trinity, Janke. I thought "all Scripture is useful for doctrine."

Anyway. I'll try to put something together, but warning, I think I will put it in the Magpie and give my self a bit more time to produce something, besides I hate writing in this little "leave your comment" box.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg, the pure

PS, really, really bad.

Anonymous said...

Note to all,
My synod is not a list of documents and anecdotes. It is not simply one big angry, stubborn, arrogant, ignorant being. It includes men and women and children, and leaders who make confession and seek to be taught, rebuked, corrected, trained, guided by God's Word alone. We are united in faith, but still live in a sinful world and battle our own sinful flesh. Please be patient with one another.


Rev. Fr. Berg- I am drinking a bit of your cool-aid, but Bereans need time.

I do not believe that all or even most of the Pastor's in the WELS blindly follow "what they are told" or unquestioningly accept Synod word as divine, but I do believe they seek to give the honor and respect due to those who have been called, and entrusted with responsibilities in administration (DPs) and teaching (i.e. Sem profs who write papers).

It is sad but perhaps we do a poor job of holding one another (or our leaders) accountable at times. Do you understand that I am reluctant to swing that pendulum too far the opposite way and lead to constant distrust and paranoia. This walking together is hard work. Kyrie eleison.

I hope that you have patience with brothers in the ministry and with a former synod (regardless of your treatment). Be reminded that "the scales" were in place for you for a long time (30 years?) and not everything is as obvious to others as it is to you now.

As far as offering you "encouragement" during your trial- all I can say is HE has only promised you the Cross in this world, I believe that is good enough.

Pax

Anonymous said...

Pastor Berg,

I'm somewhat disappointed that you responded to an honest request for Scriptural support for you position with extended criticism of DP Janke and the synod. Was that really necessary? I understand that there's "bad blood" there, but at a time when many here are open to hearing what you have to say, such asides do nothing but harm your point.

It's almost like the Bereans coming to Paul and asking him to show them from Scripture how his preaching was true, but Paul saying, "OK, I'll do that, but first let me tell you about this guy named Peter who really screwed up once and we had this confrontation and I was right and he was wrong..."

LM said...

Pax,

I appreciate you staying on topic here. I know I've taken the bait at least once or twice (by a WELS pastor even) to defend myself rather than stay focused on the discussion at hand, but there are others on here to pick up the slack.

I've read and re-read the WELS doctrinal statements and the articles to which I've been referred. I've also read and re-read those portions of our Lutheran Confessions that pertain to this discussion (which, sad to say, is what caused me to doubt some the WELS doctrine and practice in the first place.) In doing so, I've yet to see any clear support or explanation for some of the things I've questioned regarding the WELS. Similarly, despite labeling what is written on these same subjects in the MM as Missourian, I've yet to see anyone refute it. As such, I don't think there is much more I can add to or take away from this discussion. My questions have been answered in many instances with silence, and what I initially saw as a refusal to answer, I now see as an inability to answer. It is what it is. It just isn't for me.

Anyway, my point is, I'm happy to hear and consider what you have to say Pax, but I don't want you or anyone else to feel obligated to respond.

LM

Rev. Peter Berg said...

Broher John,

I was alerted to the fact that while you have granted me a Nihil Obstat when it comes to doctrine you have nonetheless tonefully sullied my good name. I just checked. Indeed, you have. I'm reminded of our dear mother's advice in situations such as this when we were growing up in Benton Harbor, "Stick and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me!" However, even at that tender age I thought, "If I say that to Dicky Trapp he'll kick my sorry butt from here to St. Joe!" Therefore I chose to ignore you and your TONE. I have feelings too!

Psssst. Fellow posters, my brother owns a pink chasuble, as does his high voiced friend in Belleville.

Rev. Fr. Peter Berg

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

To Signatory Pax,

You write

"As far as offering you "encouragement" during your trial- all I can say is HE has only promised you the Cross in this world, I believe that is good enough."

Lest anyone misunderstand, I was answering a question asked of me, did anyone do so. I expected nothing more than the cross, though I whined a bit, indeed, I normally sign my letters as you, pax, but during that time, sub crucis. And yes, you are correct that is enough, and thank you for the reminder.

To Signatory "Anonymous,"

You write

"I'm somewhat disappointed that you responded to an honest request for Scriptural support for you position with extended criticism of DP Janke and the synod. Was that really necessary? I understand that there's "bad blood" there, but at a time when many here are open to hearing what you have to say, such asides do nothing but harm your point."

Extended? Hmm (it was only a sentence). Anyway. First of all, here is what I have learned, people often attribute the emotions and feelings they have about a matter to others. I am angry so you must be angry. I have seen that in spades on the blog. I have no "bad blood." No respect, sure, zero. But do you want to know the facts of the why? (I’ll give you the extended version, it will curl your toes.)

But so you know, it was not, as you write, a "criticism" it was just a fact, one that might underscore the caution, Put not your trust in princes. I understand the level naivete that exists in the WELS, I was as naive as the rest.

But you are right. I did not have to relate that fact, though it was a fact, and sure, it probably would have been better to include this information when I was asked about my story, and sure, it was a fact which I gratuitously threw in. So, sorry to disappoint you, I’ll try not to in the future.... damn flesh.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

A WELS teacher said...

I think I will put it in the Magpie and give my self a bit more time to produce something, besides I hate writing in this little "leave your comment" box.

Pastor Berg I, for one, will anxiously wait for that article addition to the online Magpie! Thank you again for setting forth your perspective. It does make one wonder when their are NO reasons given.

And John my pastor when to the C&C conference and said it was "excellent" and he has some great new ideas. ...

A WELS teacher

Anonymous said...

Pastor Berg,

Even in your "apology," you managed to question my motivation (redirected anger), again bring up your "toe-curling" treatment, and call WELS members naive. Oh, and then you managed to apologize by the third paragraph.

You asked, "But do you want to know the facts of the why?"

Frankly, no. I don't care the least bit about what happened to you or why it happened to you. What I care about, and what I asked about, was the Scriptural basis for I think is a legitimate position.

I'll wait eagerly for a future article on the subject, but for now I'll keep in mind that you haven't presented any more Scriptural answers to the questions than the WELS supporters have.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

To Anonymous.

Hmm, interesting again. You mischaracterized my referring to facts, irrelevant as they were to you, as "bad blood." So let me get this straight, you can attribute anger to me but I cannot make the observation, which I think is proved by your last outburst, that sometimes people read their emotions into other's writing, which I thought might be apropos since you had attributed anger to me when none exists. Interesting.

You also assert "I don't care in the least what happened to you." Interesting. If you don’t care, ignore it. I could care less about a lot of things I read, but I don't whine to the author, I don't care. I ignore it, you see, I don't care. My apology was for my imposition on your time, and it seems you are very intolerant of the slightest. Oh, well, it is the cross you will have to bear if you read me, perhaps too heavy, I don't know.

If I can venture a bit of advice, perhaps a better and calmer approach would have been to say, "no, Pastor Berg, I must have misinterpreted your throwing in of those facts as "bad blood" and I am glad to hear that you have none and thanks for the caution, but no worries, I wouldn’t have had bad blood either. You know, as I did and said when I, in that same post, wrote to signatory Pax who reminded me that the Lord did not promise encouragement but a cross. I said,

"Lest anyone misunderstand, I was answering a question asked of me, did anyone do so. I expected nothing more than the cross, though I whined a bit, indeed, I normally sign my letters as you, pax, but during that time, sub crucis. And yes, you are correct that is enough, and thank you for the reminder."

I did not become indignant and say, You questioned my motivation. Here is some more unsolicited advice, relax, let it go. And if you really don't care, don't care.

You write,

"I'll wait eagerly for a future article on the subject, but for now I'll keep in mind that you haven't presented any more Scriptural answers to the questions than the WELS supporters have."

Fine, but I think I have supplied quite a bit of Scriptural support for what I have written. If you are a student of Scripture you can go through my post you will find quite a bit of Scripture referenced and appled, in fact most of it is Scripture, not always referenced, but easily known. And though not a quote or paraphrase of Scripture, if which I had many, there were other Scripture truths easily seen, for example as I speak about the authority of Christ, husband and pastor not being to boss about or binding wills as WELS defines it, could you not recognize our Lord's words, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant." Your comment is puzzling to me.

Now obviously a greater treatment is needed but I hardly think that I have not presented any more Scriptural answers to the questions than the WELS supporters have. I would loathe to go over all the past posts but I recall precious few. But that is neither here nor there.

Looking forward to your comments on my article which I hope to publish soon in the Magpie, and if you would like to have your comments published, as it is the policy of the Magpie, you will need to come out from under the cloak of anonymity as we don't print anonymous letters.

Oh, and finally, you seem to take umbrage as the observation that many in the WELS are naïve, if so, to quote a line from my favorite movie, Now who is being naïve, Kay?

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

UP said...

" I don't care the least bit about what happened to you or why it happened to you. "

Wow! Were you the anonymous ranting about the "law of love" earlier in these comments? Whether you were or not, maybe you should look at what Jesus said about taking the plank out of your own eye first...

As for redirected anger as your motivation, it sure reads like that to more of us than just Pr. Berg.

UP

John said...

Mr. Anonymous - you claim I have sinned and then I ask you how and you run and hide.

Pr. Berg - I appreciate your post which directly and Scripturally answers the topic of the role of women. I wonder what my DP would say in response because he did directly tell me that a women would be sinning if she voted (in a public election) against her husband.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Pastor Berg, but alluding to and paraphrasing Scripture isn't enough for me either. Most false doctrines come about by alluding to and paraphrasing Scripture rather than doing in-depth analysis of specific parts of Scripture. (I'm not claiming that you're preaching false doctrine.) But claiming that your position is "easily seen" doesn't work for me. Based on the amount of discussion here, it's fairly evident that very little is "easily seen" in these matters.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

Dear Anonymous,

Do you not read, "a fuller treatment is needed"? And you say "allude" I say "apply. (And I wonder what you think about that paraphrase of Scripture we call the Apostles' Creed?) So be patitient, don't worry, be happy.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg said...

Dear John,

Thank you for your kind words.

You write,

"I wonder what my DP would say in response because he did directly tell me that a women would be sinning if she voted (in a public election) against her husband."

I don't have to wonder what he would say to you if you said you didn't agree with him.

What a sad thing for him to so burden the consciences of women, and men who actually think their wives can decide for themselves on a matter that Scripture does not speak, here, which candidate is the best one, and that her judgement must be his.

Rev. Fr. John W. Berg

Michael Schottey said...

Why do you ask what Rev. Fr. J. Berg teaches? Can you not read? Attempt reading his lengthly tracts of evidence for his teachings. Then come at him with your accusations (false and otherwise). If you would not take the time to read what he has written, why should he take the time to answer you?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Schottey....so says the "young pup" keeping score??

Per Rev. Fr. John Berg:
"When some posters tried to show this, and let us use words that mean what they say, hypocrisy, the fur flies and the discussion reduces to who broke the 8th commandment the most, with some young pup on the side presumptuously claiming to keep score."

Michael Schottey said...

anonymous (and possibly more notable Rev. Fr. Berg)

I never was keeping score, I simply admonished the anonymous (same one) and many others for typing things in haste rather than sitting back, thinking about things, reading what scripture and the confessions says about them, and then typing.

Sorry for using a pop culture reference. The admonishment still stands.